2019 

July

July 17

Trump Impeachment Vote

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

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

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

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

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

 House v. Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

will hurd headshotOnly four Republicans — Representatives Will Hurd of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Susan W. Brooks of Indiana — broke with their party to vote against Mr. Trump. They were joined by Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently abandoned the Republican Party to become an independent. Each had his or her reasons.
Official rebukes of the president by Congress are exceedingly rare — and difficult to track because the language of House and Senate resolutions varies.

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

July 16

Trump Goes Racist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary On GOP Racism As Tool

lee atwater graphic

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

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

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

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

July 15

Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump digs into attack on minority lawmakers, demands apology, John Wagner​, July 15, 2019. The president called on a group of minority congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and to him a day after he tweeted that they should “go back” to their countries.

U.S. House logoPresident Trump on Monday called on a group of minority, liberal congresswomen to “apologize” to the United States, Israel and him and accused them of “racist hatred” a day after he said in inflammatory tweets that they should “go back” to their countries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Forbids Aide's Testimony

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

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

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

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

July 14

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

donald trump twitterHere’s what Donald Trump tweeted:

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

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

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

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

July 13

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

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

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

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

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

July 12

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

virgina roberts dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 U.S. War Powers

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to prevent Trump from entering unauthorized war with Iran, setting up showdown with Senate, Karoun Demirjian​, July 12, 2019. The House voted Friday to prevent President Trump from launching into war with Iran without getting Congress’ approval first, after more than two dozen Republicans joined Democrats to include the provision in the House’s annual defense authorization bill.

The move sets up a likely showdown with the Senate over whether the Iran restriction, which includes an exception for cases of self-defense, will be included in the final bill negotiated between the two chambers. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have argued that the language would send a bad message to Tehran that the United States is divided, complicating the president’s ability to manage escalating tensions.

The Iran amendment is just one of several high-profile measures that lawmakers voted this week to include in the first defense authorization bill Democrats have steered through the House since taking over the majority earlier this year. Those measures, which range from ending U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen to undoing President Trump’s ban on transgender troops, helped secure the support of liberal Democrats from the congressional Progressive Caucus, who had previously warned that they might vote against the defense bill.

Mueller Testimony

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller offers to delay testimony one week to give lawmakers more time for questions, Rachael Bade, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian, July 12, 2019.. Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller is scheduled to testify Wednesday about his investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump Caves On Census Citizen Plan

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

Barr Team Thwarting Trump Probe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Affairs: Jared Kushner

madsen 1 1 175x230

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

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

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

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

U.S. Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 11

Trump Team Subpoenas

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

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

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

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

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

Epstein / Trump Cover-up Scandal

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

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

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

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

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

 

alex acosta labor dept building ultraviolet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 10

Epstein / Trump Cover-up Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump praises Acosta as labor secretary faces growing calls to resign over earlier Epstein case, John Wagner​, July 9, 2019. Alexander Acosta, who previously served as a U.S. attorney, has come under scrutiny for his handling as a prosecutor of a 2007 sex-crimes case involving billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Media / Trump Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court dismisses emoluments lawsuit involving Trump’s D.C. hotel, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, July 10, 2019. The unanimous ruling is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District.

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

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

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said the attorneys general lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution when his business accepts payments from state and foreign governments. The decision — from Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. — also stops dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities for financial records related to the D.C. hotel.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, both Democrats, have said they would consider appealing for a rehearing by a full panel of the 4th Circuit and would not be surprised to see the case reach the Supreme Court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

More On Epstein Scandal

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

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Hearst Newspapers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 9

Epstein / Trump / Acosta Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump praises Acosta as labor secretary faces growing calls to resign over earlier Epstein case, John Wagner​, July 9, 2019. Alexander Acosta, above, who previously served as a U.S. attorney, has come under scrutiny for his handling as a prosecutor of a 2007 sex-crimes case involving billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

william barr djt swearing in feb 14 2019 wh tia dufour

ny times logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On July 6 and 7, FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives seized from Epstein’s midtown Manhattan townhouse mansion a “vast trove” of photographs of nude and partially nude underage girls contained on CDs. Police also discovered a sophisticated camera system inside the residence, as well as reams of documents, including legal papers dealing with financial settlements reached with Epstein’s victims.

More U.S. Justice Scandals

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

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

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

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

Media / Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, appeals court rules, Ann E. Marimow​, July 9, 2019. The case has twitter bird Customimplications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media.

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

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

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

July 8

Epstein Arrest, Trump Connection

New York Daily News, Millionaire Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking, kept nude pics of underage girls: prosecutors, Stephen Rex Brown, July 8, 2019. Millionaire Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking, kept nude pics of underage girls: prosecutors.

jeffrey epstein at harvard universityMultimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, right, kept nude photos of underage girls in his Upper East Side townhouse of horrors, Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor said Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 wayne madesen report logo

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

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

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

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

Mueller Probe Follow up

robert mueller testifying flickr

National Law Journal, Judge Warns Prosecutors About Public Statements in Case Against Russian Firm, C. Ryan Barber, July 8, 2019.  US District Judge Dabney Friedrich admonished prosecutors for statements about an indicted Russian company, but she declined to initiate contempt proceedings. "Nothing about the government's conduct to date suggests a flagrant disregard for the court's authority," Friedrich said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Robert Mueller III (shown in a file photo via Flick testifying) violated court rules in public statements about a Russian firm accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, a federal judge in Washington has ruled, while stopping short of disciplining either Justice Department leader.

dabney friedrich nbcIn a July 1 opinion, unsealed Monday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich [a Trump nominee shown at right in an NBC photo] said Barr and Mueller inappropriately linked a defendant, Concord Management and Consulting, to the Russian government, even though prosecutors have not expressly drawn a connection between the firm and the Kremlin. Friedrich, citing language in the Mueller report and Barr’s public comments on the Russia investigation, said the statements violated a court rule that prohibits lawyers in criminal cases from sharing information or opinions that could compromise the fairness of a trial.

Some of the statements could be viewed as ambiguous individually, Friedrich said in her ruling. But taken together, the statements “drew a clear connection between the defendants and a foreign government accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.” Friedrich said in her ruling: “The government’s statements were also prejudicial for another reason: they provided an opinion about the defendants’ guilt and the strength of the evidence.”

The dispute had unfolded largely under seal until Monday. Friedrich referenced a closed-door hearing in May at which she ordered ordered the government “to refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government or its agencies.” Friedrich said the lack of any “bad faith” by prosecutors counseled against proceeding with a criminal contempt action.

Concord Management, represented by a defense team from Reed Smith, had argued in April that Barr and Mueller should be held in contempt for releasing “prohibited information and opinions” in the 448-page report on the special counsel investigation and public statements that followed its release.

Describing the report and Barr’s public statements as a “broadside,” Reed Smith partner Eric Dubelier argued that the attorney general and special counsel had effectively proclaimed that Concord Management, along with other Russian companies and individuals charged in the case, participated in an interference campaign led by the Kremlin. “This despite the fact that the indictment contains no such allegation,” Dubelier said.

July 7

Epstein Arrest, Trump Connection

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein, Billionaire Long Accused of Molesting Minors, Is Charged, Patricia Mazzei and William K. Rashbaum
jeffrey epstein at harvard universityJuly 7, 2019 (print ed.). Jeffrey E. Epstein, a billionaire New York financier long accused of molesting dozens of girls, was arrested on Saturday and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors, an extraordinary turn of events in a long and sordid criminal case. Mr. Epstein, right, who was charged with sex trafficking, had avoided federal criminal charges a decade ago in a widely criticized plea deal.

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

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

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

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Epstein busted by feds at New Jersey airport, Wayne Madsen, July 8, 2019 (subscription required). Epstein, who, according to a joint report by WMR and the Justice Integrity Project in Washington, allegedly raped a 12-year old girl named Maria and a 13-year old, Katie Johnson, the latter a pseudonym, has been charged by federal prosecutors in New York with one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Secret UK View Of Trump Revealed

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump gets slam dunked by UK Ambassador to the United States, Bill Palmer, July 7, 2019. The Daily Mail published secret memos in which UK Ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch used words like “inept” and “insecure” and “incompetent” to describe Trump. The Daily Mail is a tabloid, but the UK government has since confirmed to CNN that the leaked memos are in fact the real thing. So now what?

bill palmer report logo headerDarroch is a professional diplomat, so it’s literally his job to pretend in public that an idiot like Donald Trump is not an idiot. He’s the last person who would publicly criticize Trump, no matter how he felt. These memos reveal that he felt compelled to document Trump’s idiocy in private, while discussing with his government how to deal with Trump. Darroch may or may not lose his job over this leak, as it could be difficult for him to continue interfacing with the U.S. government now that it’s been exposed that he thoroughly insulted the President of the United States. But to be clear, Darroch was just doing his job.

This incident serves as the latest reminder that Donald Trump is so uniquely and cartoonishly bad at this, America’s allies have been placed in a no-win situation when it comes to trying to work with him or work around him. On the other hand, America’s enemies have had little problem figuring out how to use Trump’s ineptness and idiocy to gain a leg-up on the United States.

July 3

Trump's July 4 Display

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: On the anniversary of U.S. independence, a Nazi shadow is cast across the land, Wayne Madsen, July 3, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). During an ego-fellating interview with Donald Trump in Japan, Fox News opinion show host and unofficial Trump national security adviser Tucker Carlson and Trump discussed America’s homeless population and agreed that it should be called “filth.”

This sort of language goes far beyond the fascist antics of Trump politicizing Washington, DC’s annual Independence Day ceremony and turning into a political rally and military show-of-force for his crackpot and racist supporters.

Calling homeless people “filth” – Trump did add that some homeless are mentally ill, a wink and a nod to them being useless members of society – comes right out of the playbook of Nazi genocide engineers like Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Dr. Josef Mengele.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s hijacking of the Fourth of July just got a lot uglier, Greg Sargent, July 3, 2019. New details are emerging about Trump’s plans. The Post reports that the National Park Service will now divert millions of dollars previously earmarked to improve parks across the country to fund Trump’s celebration on the Mall.

Meanwhile, a White House official tells The Post that the plans include a plane from Air Force One’s fleet soaring overhead at precisely the moment that Trump takes the stage. Tanks will take part in the display.

As many critics have pointed out, by politicizing the Fourth of July so nakedly, Trump has inevitably transformed the celebration into a campaign event. It remains to be seen whether he will do so explicitly in his speech, but either way, that conversion has already been implicitly accomplished.

It’s the melding of that fact with the particular display Trump is putting on that makes this so ugly. The showcasing of military might, Trump’s association of himself with it, and the unabashed conversion of a paean to the nation’s founding into a reelection event — what it all amounts to is larger than the sum of its parts.

The naked audacity of the usurpation is itself the point. That Democrats and liberals are getting trolled into expressions of outrage over it only reinforces that point to greater effect.

June

June 30

Constitutional Crisis

william barr smile fox screengrab Small

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Visits North Korea

kim trump dmz shake ap susan walsh panmunjom june 30 2019 dmz

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 29

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

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

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

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

June 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says Trump wouldn’t be president without help from Russia, John Wagner, June 28, 2019. Former president Jimmy Carter said Friday that he believes a full investigation of the 2016 election would show that President Trump prevailed jimmy carter portrait deftnewsbecause of Russian interference on his behalf and otherwise would not be in office.

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

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

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Friends of Trump accuser go public with recollections of her description of alleged assault, Colby Itkowitz, June 28, 2019. Two friends of magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll spoke on the record this week about their memories of her telling them that she’d been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

VA Slams Whistleblower

us veterans administrtion logo horizontal

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

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

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

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

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

June 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 25

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

Roll Call, Mueller to testify before House Judiciary, Intelligence panels July 17, Lindsey McPherson, June 25, 2019. Former special counsel only agreed to testify in open session pursuant to a subpoena. The House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees issued a subpoena Tuesday night for former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to testify in open session on July 17.

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

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

June 24

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

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

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

June 23

Trump Team, Allies

jamal khashoggi entering consulate

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia, Michael D. Shear, June 23, 2019.  President Trump on Sunday shrugged off the brutal dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, just days after a United Nations report described how a team of Saudi assassins called Mr. Khashoggi a “sacrificial animal” before his murder.

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

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

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

mike pompeo state dept photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside DC

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

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

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

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

Some highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World News

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

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

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

June 22

Mueller Sellout?

robert mueller screenshot washington post

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

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

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

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

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

June 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

iran wants war graphic

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

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

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

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

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

Another Assault Claim Against Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carroll says that she disclosed the Trump incident to two friends at the time. New York has verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time, and has confirmed that Bergdorf Goodman kept no security footage that would prove or disprove Carroll’s story. New York has also sought comment from Moonves and Trump. Through his representative, Moonves told New York that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. A senior White House official said in a statement, “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”

 djt fake time covers composite

President Trump created fake Time Magazine covers to enhance his image, as shown above and as reported by David Farthenhold in the Washington Post. Time's actual cover featuring actress Kate Winslow on March 1, 2009 is shown at left, with Trump's fake cover for that date displayed in his golf clubs. But Trump shows scant affection for the magazine's staff in an interview this week for a cover story, as indicted below.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump threatens reporter with prison time during interview, Colby Itkowitz, June 21, 2019. In answer to a question about the Mueller report, President Trump lashed out over a photographer's attempt to take a photo of a letter that Trump showed reporters. President Trump, in an interview this week and on Twitter on Friday morning, again suggested criminal action against American journalists.

During a sit-down interview with Time magazine, Trump showed the reporters a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. When a photographer tried to snap a photograph of the letter, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told him he couldn’t.

time logo ogLater in the interview, the subject turned to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, and a reporter asked about sworn testimony that Trump tried to limit the investigation to only “future election meddling.”

Rather than answer, Trump lashed out about the photographer’s attempt to take a shot of the letter from Kim, according to a transcript of the interview that Time released Thursday night.

“Well, you can go to prison, instead, because if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you . . . ” Trump started.

When the Time reporter interjected to continue his line of questioning, Trump went on, “confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it — so don’t play that game with me.”

Trump has been so enamored with his own appearance in the national publication that he had a fake Time cover with his portrait and the headline: “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” framed and hung in several of his golf clubs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 20

U.S. Pounds War Drums Against Iran

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Shoots Down a U.S. Drone, Escalating Tensions, Daniel Victor, David D. Kirkpatrick, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper, June 20, 2019. Iran shot down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, both nations said, but they differed on the crucial issue of whether the aircraft had violated Iranian airspace, in the latest escalation of tensions that have raised fears of war between the two countries.

iran flag mapIranian officials said the drone was over Iran, which the American military denied — an important distinction in determining who was at fault — and each side accused the other of being the aggressor.

Both said the downing occurred at 4:05 a.m. Iranian time on Thursday, or 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday in Washington. The drone “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz,” the United States Central Command said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Mr. Trump repeated his assertion from earlier in the day, saying “Iran made a very big mistake,” in brief remarks to reporters on Thursday afternoon. He also dismissed Iran’s assertion that the unmanned drone was flying in Iranian air space. The drone, Mr. Trump said, was flying over international waters, which has been “scientifically documented.”

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: This is what happens when you have an unfit commander in chief, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 20, 2019. The Senate repudiating a president of the majority party on a matter of national security would be unusual under any circumstances. That it comes at a time when tensions with a major international foe are boiling over is nothing short of astonishing, a sign of how far President Trump has fallen as commander in chief even am

President's 126th Visit To Trump Holdings

washington post logoWashington Post, Money follows Trump when he visits his clubs, as Republicans and officials pay to be with him, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O'Connell and Michelle Ye Hee Lee​, June 20, 2019. President Trump’s trips have brought his businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue, according to a Washington Post analysis. When President Trump finished the first official rally of his reelection campaign this week, he got on Air Force One. But he didn’t go home to Washington. Instead, he flew 190 miles in the opposite direction — to visit his own Doral golf resort, outside Miami.

The resort’s profits have fallen since Trump took office. But it had a major event planned for the next day, a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection campaign.

It would be his 126th visit to one of his properties since taking office. And this visit — like more than a dozen before it — would bring paying customers, allowing Trump to play a double role. The president would be the headliner and the caterer.

Trump has bigger designs for the Doral club: He has suggested holding next year’s Group of Seven meeting — a gathering of world leaders — at Doral or another of his luxury resorts, current and former White House staffers said.

June 18

Sudden DoD Change

pentagon dc skyline dod photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee, Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper, June 18, 2019. President Trump on Tuesday pulled the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan, right, to be the permanent defense secretary, saying on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan would devote more time to his family.

patrick shanahan oThe move leaves the Pentagon without a permanent leader at a time of escalating tensions with Iran after attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the explosions that damaged the two tankers.

raytheon logoMr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position.

At the Pentagon, officials were internally discussing that a routine F.B.I. investigation for cabinet nominees was dragging on for Mr. Shanahan because of his divorce, which included an allegation from his ex-wife — denied by Mr. Shanahan — that he punched her in the stomach. Mr. Shanahan said that his ex-wife started the fight, and his spokesman said that she was arrested and charged with domestic violence, charges which were eventually dropped.

According to court documents viewed by The New York Times, in 2011 Mr. Shanahan’s son, who was 17 at the time, hit his mother repeatedly with a baseball bat, and she was hospitalized.

Department of Defense SealIn an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, Mr. Shanahan said that “bad things can happen to good families.” He called the episode “a tragedy,” and said that dredging it up publicly “will ruin my son’s life.”

During his tenure, Mr. Shanahan was criticized for slighting Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s chief competitor, for its mismanagement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an aircraft that is years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.

He was widely viewed as acquiescing to the White House and other government officials, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. Mr. Shanahan famously said that the Pentagon would not be viewed as the “Department of No.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has left the building, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2019. Last month, even as the Trump regime was scrambling to hide the USS John McCain from Donald Trump’s sight during an overseas trip, Trump’s longtime Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan did the right thing by publicly speaking out against such antics. At the time, Palmer Report predicted that it would eventually lead to the demise of Shanahan’s nomination to become permanent Secretary of Defense. Sure enough, that day has arrived.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump just posted this tweet: “Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family. I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, (shown below at right) to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

To be clear, whenever an office holder abruptly says that they’re quitting in order to spend more time with their family, it’s nearly always a way of covering for something else. It couldn’t be much more clear that either Trump dumped Shanahan over his response to the McCain incident, or mark esperShanahan quit in disgust over the incident.

The United States has not had a permanent Secretary of Defense since late last year, when James Mattis reigned in protest of Donald Trump’s antics. Trump is now about to be on his second Acting Secretary of Defense. Mark Esper is a former corporate lobbyist for the military industrial complex, and is precisely the wrong kind of person to be in charge of the U.S. military.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump vows mass migrant arrests starting next week, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, June 18, 2019. In tweets, President Trump appeared to reference a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities. President Trump said in a tweet ICE logoMonday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.

donald trump twitter“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, Calif., with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter.

Related story: Washington Post, Juarez scrambles before U.S. sends thousands of migrants back to Mexico, June 18, 2019

ken cuccinelliWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The guy who hates other peoples' kids now in charge of interning them, Wayne Madsen, June 18, 2019 (subscription required). Donald Trump has installed far-right Christian fundamentalist stalwart Ken Cuccinelli, right, as acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s threat of mass arrests stinks of weakness and failure, Greg Sargent, June 18, 2019. Trump keeps making threats. Then nothing happens, 
Perhaps it’s entirely a coincidence that President Trump announced that he’s unleashing his deportation force only hours before he’s scheduled to kick off his reelection campaign with a rally in Florida.

But, coincidence or not, Trump undoubtedly sees this announcement as a show of fearsome political strength. Trump plans to run in 2020 on the notion that he represents law and order on our southern border, while painting Democrats as weak and in favor of open borders.

What better way to dramatize this contrast than to crank up the deportations, displaying Trump’s toughness while provoking Democrats into squealing about their squishy, pointy-headed, elitist humanitarian concerns?

But this latest threat is better understood as a grand expression of weakness and failure on Trump’s part — political weakness, rooted to no small degree in his abject failure on immigration, his signature issue.

U.S. Politics

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Why Isn’t Trump a Real Populist? Paul Krugman, right, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). He seems determined to betray his base.“I love the poorly educated.” So declared Donald Trump back in February 2016, after a decisive win in the Nevada primary. And the poorly educated love him back: Whites without a college degree are pretty much the only group among whom Trump has more than 50 percent approval.

But in that case, why has Trump been unwilling to do anything, and I mean anything, to help the people who installed him in the White House?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump plans to turn the Fourth of July into a political rally in honor of himself, Eugene Robinson, June 18, 2019.  The Fourth of July celebration in Washington has long been a grand pageant of democracy, a family-friendly event that transcends ideology and partisanship. President Trump intends to turn it into a cult-of-personality political rally in honor of himself.

No, I’m not surprised, but what Trump is doing makes me angry. And it makes me sad to see one of our very best traditions being trampled and dishonored.

June 17 

djt golf in shape custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Author Profile: The Life of Reilly: From celebrity sportswriter to Internet punchline to Trump antagonist, Ben Strauss, June 17, 2019 (print ed.). Rick Reilly was between bites of a samosa during a recent dinner on H Street, pondering his career. He was an 11-time national sportswriter of the year during his heyday at Sports Illustrated rick reilly djt commander in cheat(SI), a celebrated long-form writer and ultimately the country’s most influential and highest-paid columnist during a career that spanned three decades.

And then? The downslope of Reilly’s career after he left SI for ESPN in 2008 was both sudden and jarring. He was caught recycling old material; his father-in-law, a Native American, accused Reilly of misquoting him in a column defending the Redskins’ team name; the puckish humor that once defined his writing lost its edge.

In April, Rick Reilly released Commander in Cheat, an exposé on President Trump’s alleged rampant golf cheating. The book hit the bestseller list and thrust Reilly, 61, back into the media spotlight. He did a slew of cable news hits and was excerpted by Politico. “These political guys can’t get enough,” he said. “I got reviewed by the New Yorker!”

Reilly’s old sports buddies, he said, have been less interested. “Maybe it’s too political,” he offered. “A lot of them don’t want to touch it.”

An hour before dinner, Reilly gave a talk at Solid State Books in Northeast Washington. “Golf is the best game,” Reilly said. His reedy voice cracked and rose and his eyes welled as he talked about Trump. “Somebody’s got to call him on these lies!”

Reilly choked back tears as he explained that his father taught him to play the game. “If a sportswriter can stand up to Trump, why can’t a Republican senator?” he asked.

Reilly’s book is filled with vivid allegations about Trump’s cheating — how he once threw broadcaster Mike Tirico’s ball off the green during a round, how he manipulates the value of his courses to get tax breaks, how he exaggerates his golf scores.

Reilly said he isn’t much concerned about his legacy. But if there is something he would like to be remembered for, he said, it’s for standing up for the little guy — which is why his Trump book is a genuine throwback to his old muckraking days.

“I wanted to write columns that made small people feel big and big people feel small,” Reilly said. “Trump’s a bully, and I think it could really change the way people vote. My dad was a lifelong Republican, but I don’t know if he’d vote for this guy knowing how he cheats at golf.”

Jones’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, denied his client was threatening Mattei or the Sandy Hook families and urged people to watch the broadcast for themselves.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has berserk meltdown after Fox News reports bad news about him, Bill Palmer, June 17, 2019. For years, Donald Trump and Fox News have had a mutually beneficial relationship. Fox airs misleading and disingenuous stories that benefit Trump, because it’s what Fox’s audience wants to hear. Trump returns the favor by propping up Fox. The trouble is that as Trump becomes more toxic, a growing number of Fox viewers have become sick of him – so Fox has had to go incrementally more negative about him.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Fox News has reported more and more bad news and negative commentary about Donald Trump, we’ve seen Trump increasingly criticize the network – even as he’s sought solace in obscure competing networks like OANN that are still willing to air wall to wall pro-Trump propaganda. Things came to a head this evening when Fox reported its own in-house poll numbers for the 2020 election, and let’s just say they’re not pretty for Trump.

fox news logo SmallTrump posted this tweet: “Fox News Polls are always bad for me. They were against Crooked Hillary also. Something weird going on at Fox. Our polls show us leading in all 17 Swing States. For the record, I didn’t spend 30 hours with @abcnews, but rather a tiny fraction of that. More Fake News.” This came after Fox reported that Trump is behind Joe Biden by ten points, and is also behind every other viable 2020 Democratic nominee.

For the record, all major public polls are showing numbers similar to what Fox News is reporting. Donald Trump’s own leaked internal poll numbers also have him losing badly. Trump is lost in a haze of delusion, and now that even Fox News is reporting how screwed he is, he’s decided that Fox is “fake news” as well.

June 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says supporters might ‘demand’ that he serve more than two terms as president, Felicia Sonmez, June 16, 2019. The president has previously joked about serving more than two terms as president, including at an event in April where he told a crowd that he might remain “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Sunday floated the possibility of staying in office longer than two terms, suggesting in a morning tweet that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer.”

The president has previously joked about serving more than two terms as president, including at an event in April where he told a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution limits the presidency to two terms.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoIn tweets Sunday morning, Trump also voiced dissatisfaction with recent news coverage of his administration, calling both The Washington Post and The New York Times “the Enemy of the People.”

He added: “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

washington post logoWashington Post, After assuring that the Supreme Court is apolitical, chief justice faces major test, Robert Barnes, June 16, 2019. Chief Justice John Roberts will play a pivotal john roberts orole in two of the most politically consequential decisions in years. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, began the Supreme Court’s term last fall seeking to assure the American public that his court does not “serve one party or one interest.”

He will end it playing a pivotal role in two of the most politically consequential decisions the court has made in years.

us census bureauOne initiative is to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, which has fueled a partisan showdown on Capitol Hill. The other could outlaw the partisan gerrymandering techniques that were essential to Republican dominance at the state and congressional level over the past decade.

The politically weighted decisions, by a court in which the five conservatives were chosen by Republican presidents and the four liberals were nominated by Democrats, threaten to undermine Roberts’s efforts to portray the court as independent.

 whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Trump, McConnell, Roberts — Who Will Be Russia’s Favorite Pawn? Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, June 16, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is doing everything in his power to make sure that US elections remain vulnerable. He is just the latest Republican to play into Russia’s hands — and he likely won’t be the last.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The thing everyone is missing about Donald Trump’s Russia confession, Cheryl Kelley, June 16, 2019. Donald Trump’s ABC News interview is widely seen as a disaster, because he admitted that he has no problem with taking campaign help from foreign governments. Pundits and most Democratic politicians assumed Trump had made a mistake. This theory seemed to be confirmed when Trump’s surrogates and then Trump himself, tried to walk his confessional statements back.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two important things people are missing. First, Trump is becoming increasingly comfortable and confident that there will be no immediate consequences for making confessional statements or for bringing his criminal activity into the open. Donald Trump is a career criminal who seems to thrive when he is actively trying to keep one step away from being caught. He clearly enjoys feeling as if he is outmaneuvering law enforcement. Breaking laws “out in the open” is one of his standard defensive tactics, and he believes it is working for him.

More importantly, Donald Trump clearly knows he has to win the 2020 election in order to avoid prosecution for financial crimes and obstruction of justice; and, he knows he is losing “bigly” in all of the current polls.

Add those two points together, and you get Donald Trump going on air to ask any and all interested foreign powers to help him out in 2020. Donald Trump knows he will be prosecuted for his crimes if he is out of office in 2020, and he believes he is not likely to face consequences for cheating, or getting election help from foreign powers. That is what we all witnessed in Donald Trump’s ABC News interview, and the governments of Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates all witnessed it too. This is a very dangerous combination. I just hope someone at the FBI is paying attention.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just flat out admitted he’s a Russian asset, Bill Palmer, June 16, 2019. Last night the New York Times did its job by reporting that the United States is doing its job by finding new ways to push back against Russia’s cyber attacks. It seemed pretty straightforward. The only controversial part was the revelation that the Pentagon and the U.S. intel community hesitated to tell Trump about the tactics, due to his notorious personal allegiance to Vladimir Putin over the United States. Suffice it to say that when Donald Trump learned about the New York Times story, he didn’t exactly respond well.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump posted this deranged tweet in response: “Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country. ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

djt sergey lavrov sergey kislyak wh may 10 2017 tassWow. Where do we even start? Why would the New York Times be committing treason by reporting a true story? How could Trump know it’s supposedly false? Why would the word “treason” even be involved in a story about the United States taking active measures against a foreign government? Trump is literally claiming that if the United States is being disloyal to Russia, then it’s treason.

It’s more obvious than ever that Donald Trump views himself as a subject of the Russian government, and not a subject of the United States government. His tweet alone tonight should be enough to disqualify him from office, as he flat out admitted he’s a Russian asset. That’s before getting to the stunning reality that the U.S. military and the U.S. intel community are having to hide things from Trump because they know he’s a Russian asset. (Trump is shown at a 2017 White House meeting with Russian diplomats from which American media were barred, but which was photographed by the Russian outlet TASS).

June 15

How Young Trump Bullied

djt 1980s screenshot oprah winfrey show

Donald Trump shown in a 1980s screenshot from an Oprah Winfrey show.

Raw Story, New documents reveal how a young Trump bullied the press for years as he hid his actual wealth, Matthew Chapman, June 15, 2019. On Friday, journalist Jonathan Greenberg published a stunning exposé of how Donald Trump, in his younger years, managed to maintain his brand of success and fortune — and keep attracting investors to his projects — even in the face of devastating business losses and incompetence.

The short answer: he threatened, intimidated, and bullied reporters out of telling the truth about his business empire.

“I turned up three never-before-published letters from Trump to Forbes from 1989, in which he claimed to be worth $3.7 billion,” wrote Greenberg (in How Donald Trump silenced the people who could expose his business failures). “We now know that he reported losses of about $100 million that year and that he was treading near insolvency. Then I started to contact other people who had collided with Trump in those years. Journalists told me how he’d tried to block their reporting on his empire — by making up ethical scandals about them, furnishing fake documents and, in one case, threatening to expose the private life of a closeted media executive. Wall Street analysts witnessed a campaign of intimidation that began when Trump got one of them fired for (correctly) doubting his casinos’ ability to pay off their debts.”

In the late 1980s, Trump reportedly put out inflated estimates of his business assets and profitability that were perfectly timed to get him onto the coveted “Forbes 400” list of richest people in America — even though, behind the scenes, his real estate empire was bleeding money and floating junk bonds. But in 1990, when Forbes Senior Editor Richard Stern and writer John Connolly prepared a story on this, Trump bullied them into gutting the story.

“On the Monday of the week the story was to be published, Stern met with Trump to seek a comment he could include in the article,” wrote Greenberg.

“The mogul exploded, threatening to sue Forbes. On Tuesday, ‘orders came from on high’ to change the story’s estimate of Trump’s net worth to $500 million, Stern recalls. ‘I got into a shouting match with [Jim] Michaels,’ Forbes’s powerful top editor, Stern says. ‘Forbes bent. We had to jigger the numbers to give Trump a positive net worth.’ (Michaels died in 2007.) Connolly says the cover line was also changed, from ‘Is Trump Broke?’ to ‘How Much Is Donald Really Worth Now?,’ which is how it appeared on May 14, 1990.”

michael flynn flickr gage skidmore phoenix 10 29 2016

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here we go with the Michael Flynn debacle, Bill Palmer, June 15, 2019. Michael Flynn (shown in a 2016 campaign rally photo by Gage Skidmore) managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this week when, on the verge of being given little to no prison time as part of his plea deal, he decided to hire a new anti-FBI attorney whose likely goal is to blow up Flynn’s plea deal. Donald Trump publicly praised Flynn’s move, which means it can’t have been a smart one. So what’s really going on here? We’re about to find out.

bill palmer report logo headerEarlier this year, Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan took a look at the Michael Flynn court filings, and then asked aloud in court if Flynn had committed treason. Sullivan also made clear that he thought it was ridiculous that Flynn had tried to paint himself as a victim of the FBI. Sullivan told Flynn that if he wanted a emmet sullivan 2012lenient sentence, he would need to come back with evidence of additional cooperation with the authorities. Now Flynn is coming back with a new lawyer who’s trying to paint him as – shocker – a victim of the FBI.

You see where this is going, right? Judge Sullivan has ordered Michael Flynn to show up in court on Wednesday and explain what all is going on. All along, Sullivan has been demanding contrition from Flynn, and instead he’s about to come into court with a whole new load of hostile anti-FBI nonsense.

fbi logoSo, to recap: we’ve got a judge who has been looking for an excuse to hand out a harsh sentence. We’ve got a defendant who now inexplicably appears intent on landing a harsh sentence. We’ve got a new lawyer who literally sells t-shirts claiming that the defendant has been framed, even though the defendant has already pleaded guilty. And we’ve got a criminal President of the United States openly cheering for the whole thing to combust. What could possibly go wrong?

June 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Donald Trump silenced the people who could expose his business failures, Jonathan Greenberg, June 14, 2019. How did Donald Trump, a self-serving promoter who lost billions of dollars for his investors, convince the world that he is a financial genius? It wasn’t just by fabricating tales of his success. It was also by bullying and silencing people who could have stopped those deceits — particularly reporters and Wall Street analysts — forcing all but a very few into a conspiracy of silence.

These tactics, which form a core element of his politics, were something I saw him hone firsthand in the 1980s and 1990s as Trump’s company was imploding.

I was the lead real estate wealth estimator for the Forbes 400 list in its early years. Trump called me twice in 1984, posing as his fictional “VP of finance” John Barron and professing the kind of riches that ought to land him on the list, despite failing to document them. So when a New York Times exposé last month showed that Trump had lost $1.1 billion between 1985 and 1994, I looked back at my archives and began calling old colleagues to compare these figures with what Trump was telling journalists three decades ago.

First, I turned up three never-before-published letters from Trump to Forbes from 1989, in which he claimed to be worth $3.7 billion. We now know that he reported losses of about $100 million that year and that he was treading near insolvency. Then I started to contact other people who had collided with Trump in those years. Journalists told me how he’d tried to block their reporting on his empire — by making up ethical scandals about them, furnishing fake documents and, in one case, threatening to expose the private life of a closeted media executive. Wall Street analysts witnessed a campaign of intimidation that began when Trump got one of them fired for (correctly) doubting his casinos’ ability to pay off their debts.

Jonathan Greenberg a freelance investigative journalist, is author of “America 2034: Utopia Rising.”

washington post logoWashington Post, FEC chairwoman warns candidates not to accept help from foreign governments, Colby Itkowitz, June 14, 2019. Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub released a statement Thursday making clear that candidates for public office may not receive help from a foreign government, in what appeared to be a warning to President Trump, who said he would consider taking information about an opponent from another country.

Tweeting her statement, Weintraub wrote, “I would not have thought that I needed to say this.” The head of the agency responsible for campaign finance laws clarified that any campaign that accepts help from a foreign government “risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation.”

“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office,” Weintraub wrote. “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept.”

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Trump to America: Who’s Going to Stop Me? Michelle Goldberg, June 14, 2019. In a new interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, parts of which were released on Wednesday evening, Donald Trump announced his willingness to betray and subvert American democracy, again. Asked what he would do if he were offered foreign dirt on an opponent in 2020, he said he’d take it, and pooh-poohed the idea of calling federal law enforcement.

“Oh, let me call the F.B.I.,” he said derisively. “Give me a break, life doesn’t work that way.”

That Trump has no loyalty to his country, its institutions and the integrity of its elections is not surprising. That he feels no need to fake it is alarming.

June 13

Palmer Report, Opinion: It’s been a really bad day for Donald Trump’s pals, Bill Palmer, June 13, 2019. Things rarely end well for Donald Trump’s allies, loyalists, underlings and henchmen in general. He promises to take care of them if they give him cover for his crimes, or if they commit crimes on his behalf. Then when push comes to shove, he selfishly kellyanne conway gage skidmoreleaves them twisting because he only cares about protecting himself. Today has turned out to be one of those days where Trump’s allies are taking it on the chin even more than usual.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst we’ve got Kellyanne Conway (Gage Skidmore portrait at right). Her violations of the Hatch Act have led a federal government oversight entity to formally recommend that Donald Trump fire her. That won’t happen. But House Democrats have announced a June 26th public hearing into her Hatch Act violations, which will make her enough of a liability that for all we know, Trump might feel compelled to cut her loose.

sarah huckabee sanders 2017 05 05Then we’ve got Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left,. Donald Trump tweeted today that she’s resigning as of the end of the month. Why? No reason given. But we do know that she’s leaving Washington DC with her reputation forever destroyed, thanks to her endless lies aimed at protecting Trump from his crimes and scandals.

We’ve also got Duncan Hunter, right, one of the first House Republicans to endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 race. Hunter’s wife cut a plea deal against him duncan hunter otoday, which likely means that he’s going to prison, and all but certainly means that his political career is over.

Finally there’s Michael Flynn, who appears to have been cajoled by Trump into hiring the kind of grandstanding lawyer whose antics will land Flynn a long prison sentence. Flynn must be counting on a pardon. There won’t be one coming.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Seeks to Question C.I.A. in Its Own Russia Investigation, Julian E. Barnes, Katie Benner, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, June 13, 2019 (print ed.). The interview plans suggest a focus in part on the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia intervened in 2016 on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Justice Department officials intend to interview senior C.I.A. officers as they review the Russia investigation, according to people briefed on the matter, indicating they are focused partly on the intelligence agencies’ most explosive conclusion about the 2016 election: that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia intervened to benefit Donald J. Trump.

The interview plans are the latest sign the Justice Department will take a critical look at the C.I.A.’s work on Russia’s election interference. Investigators want to talk with at least one senior counterintelligence official and a senior C.I.A. analyst, the people said. Both officials were involved in the agency’s work on understanding the Russian campaign to sabotage the election in 2016.

While the Justice Department review is not a criminal inquiry, it has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny. Attorney General William P. Barr, who is overseeing the review, assigned the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, to conduct it.

[The attorney general is reviewing the Russia inquiry. Here’s what we know about its origins.]

The Justice Department has not submitted formal written requests to talk to the C.I.A. officers, but law enforcement officials have told intelligence officials that Mr. Durham will seek the interviews, two of the people said. Communications officers for both the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment.

michael flynn state department Customwashington post logoWashington Post, House panel issues subpoenas to Flynn, Gates, Karoun Demirjian​, June 13, 2019. The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas to two former Trump officials who served as key witnesses in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe as part of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into election interference and the president’s alleged foreign ties.

The summons for Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, left, require them to furnish documents to the panel by June 26 and appear for testimony on July 10.

June 13

Media Matters, Opinion: Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn’s new attorney, is an anti-Mueller conspiracy theorist and Fox regular, Staff report, June 13, 2019. President Donald Trump sidney powellpraised former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s decision to replace his legal team with Sidney Powell, right, a conservative attorney, conspiracy theorist, and harsh critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe who has made dozens of appearances on Fox News and Fox Business in recent years.

“General Michael Flynn, the 33 year war hero who has served with distinction, has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER, Sidney Powell,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!”

After pleading guilty to charges of lying to the FBI in December 2017, Flynn began cooperating with Mueller’s team. Last week, he fired his legal team, a move that “triggered speculation in legal and political circles that he’s considering backing out of his plea deal with the government in a play for a presidential pardon,” according to Politico.

Powell’s hiring should bolster that conjecture. She is a former federal prosecutor who specializes in federal appeals in commercial litigation, but has carved out a sideline as a fox news logo SmallFox pundit. According to her website, “Sidney the Media Figure is highly sought to comment on current legal issues and government investigations—especially the special investigation lead by Robert Mueller and his chief lieutenant Andrew Weissmann,” who the site describes as the “true villain” of her 2014 book, Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

Indeed, Powell is one of a handful of lawyers that Fox’s pro-Trump hosts have relied upon to put a legal gloss on their alternative narrative that Mueller’s investigation was the result of an illegal anti-Trump conspiracy by the “deep state.” She has used Fox’s platform to claim the probe “was set up, basically, to impugn this presidency and to make it as hard as possible for Mr. Trump to carry out his duties” and to describe investigators as “creeps on a mission to destabilize and destroy this president.”

While Powell has a lower profile than more regular legal commentators like Alan Dershowitz or Victoria Toensing, the former federal prosecutor has still made more than two dozen appearances on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show, and at least nine additional weekday interviews on Fox News, since January 2018.

Powell has an extremely active presence on Twitter, where she has argued that Flynn’s prosecution is a “horrific injustice” and that Mueller’s team engaged in “obstruction” by “hiding evidence that exonerates him.” As part of a pattern of frequently amplifying conspiratorial rants about the Mueller probe, Powell has also repeatedly retweeted major accounts that promote the QAnon conspiracy theory and shared articles from Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website, Infowars (in October 2017, Powell was also interviewed by then-Infowars Washington bureau chief Jerome Corsi.).

Powell’s conspiratorial Twitter musings are not limited to the Mueller probe. She has repeatedly tweeted about George Soros, the Jewish billionaire philanthropist who is regularly targeted with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In December, she accused the Federal Reserve of deliberately trying to “#crash the market” as part of a deliberate plot to destroy Trump “and enrich #Soros & themselves. #Soros has done it before.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump open to accepting opposition research from foreign powers, Colby Itkowitz and Tom Hamburger, June 13, 2019. President Trump told ABC News that he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI if a foreign country approached his campaign with information about a challenger.

 washington post logoWashington Post, As Democrats deepen probes, Trump accuses them of being ‘totally out of control,’ David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and John Wagner​, June 13, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump lashed out Wednesday against a widening web of congressional probes that demonstrated the limits of his strategy to declare victory and try to move past the 22-month special counsel investigation into Russian interference that has consumed much of his presidency.

donald trump twitterYet Trump’s latest efforts to defend himself ran into new obstacles as a House panel moved to hold two Cabinet officials — Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — in contempt of Congress over the administration’s efforts to shield documents related to its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

The committee vote came several hours after Trump asserted executive privilege over the material related to the 2020 Census.

By day’s end, there was more potential bad news for the White House as Hope Hicks, the president’s longtime adviser who left last year, agreed to become the first former aide to testify next week for a House Judiciary Committee probe into whether the president sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.

washington post logogeorge conway twitterWashington Post, Opinion: Trump just invited Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, George T. Conway III, shown at right in his Twitter portrait, and Neal Katyal, June 13, 2019 (print ed.). George T. Conway III is a lawyer in New York. Neal Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University, previously served as the acting solicitor general of the United States. Much ink has been spilled about whether President Trump committed a criminal and impeachable offense by obstructing justice. That question deserves extensive debate, but another critical question — the ultimate question, really — is not whether he committed a crime but whether he is even fit for office in the first place. And that question — the heart of an impeachment inquiry — turns upon whether the president abuses his power and demonstrates an unfitness to serve under the defining principles of our Constitution.

On Tuesday, Trump gave us direct evidence of his contempt toward the most foundational precept of our democracy — that no person, not even the president, is above the law. He filed a brief in the nation’s second-most-important court that takes the position that Congress cannot investigate the president, except possibly in impeachment proceedings. It’s a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, and anyone who harbors such attitudes toward our Constitution’s architecture is not fit for office. Trump’s brief is nothing if not an invitation to commencing impeachment proceedings that, for reasons set out in the Mueller report, should have already commenced.

The case involves a House committee’s efforts to follow up on the testimony of Trump’s now-incarcerated former attorney, Michael Cohen, that Trump had allegedly committed financial and tax fraud, and allegedly paid off paramours in violation of campaign finance laws. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed Trump’s accountants in mid-April for relevant documents, and Trump tried to block the move, only to be sternly rebuked in mid-May by a federal judge in Washington.

The appeals brief filed Monday by Trump attacks that decision. But to describe Trump’s brief is to refute it. He argues that Congress is “trying to prove that the President broke the law” and that that’s something Congress can’t do, because it’s “an exercise of law enforcement authority that the Constitution reserves to the executive branch.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Hope Hicks’ testimony against Donald Trump is such a big deal, Bill Palmer, June 13, 2019. Yesterday, House Democrats scored by far their djt hope hicksmost important victory to date in their investigation into Donald Trump’s scandals. Unfortunately, because we’re in such overwhelmingly cynical times, quite a few members of the Resistance were unable to process that this was a victory at all.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat happened yesterday is that Hope Hicks, right, who officially served as Donald Trump’s White House Communications Director and unofficially served as his closest political confidant, has agreed to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about his obstruction of justice crimes next Wednesday. This is huge. There are a few key witnesses the House Democrats were trying to land – Hicks, Don McGahn, Annie Donaldson – and now they’ve got one. In fact they’ve arguably landed the most important of the three. But observers were quick to crap all over this good news.

The bottom line is this: none of the caveats matter. Hope Hicks knows most of Donald Trump’s campaign secrets and most of his White House secrets, and she’s agreed to testify before Congress about his obstruction crimes. If she were playing for Team Trump, she’d be refusing to testify at all, like McGahn did. She’s clearly not trying to protect Trump here. Nor is she particularly interested in whatever retaliation he might try against her.

June 11

 

washington post logoWashington Post, House authorizes going to court to force Barr, McGahn to obey subpoenas, Mike DeBonis, June 11, 2019. The vote was the strongest step yet by the Democrat-led House in its effort to get President Trump to cooperate with ongoing congressional investigations.

washington post logojohn dean manafort plea screengrabWashington Post, Former White House counsel Dean describes Trump-Nixon parallels, Rachael Bade, John Wagner and Mike DeBonis​, June 11, 2019.  “In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard Nixon,” John W. Dean III said.

The hearing underscored the problems Democrats face in trying to draw attention to Mueller’s findings as Trump repeatedly blocks his former White House aides from testifying and cooperating with requests for documents. Unlike Dean (shown in a file photo), who turned on Nixon and testified in the 1970s, Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn has refused to appear because the White House instructed him not to testify.

Palmer Report, Opinion: William Barr finds a whole new way to lose, Bill Palmer, June 11, 2019. All along, Attorney General William Barr’s words have given the appearance that he’s william barr new owilling to stand his ground and protect Donald Trump at all costs. But Barr’s actions have given away that he really, really doesn’t want to be held in contempt. Sure enough, last night, on the eve of a full House contempt vote against him, Barr, right, caved by giving House Democrats immediate access to underlying Mueller report materials. Then the House Democrats decided to make his nightmare come true anyway.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Democrats won’t be sending the Sergeant-at-Arms out today to arrest William Barr and lock him in the tiny jail in the basement. But they are voting today to take de facto civil contempt measures against Barr – which is precisely what he was trying to avoid. It’s too late for Barr to take the Mueller report materials off the table, because he already let House Democrats have access to them last night.

The kicker is that House Democrats are going just soft enough today on William Barr so that he might be motivated to continue caving to them, while just hard enough on Barr to send a message to others about Barr having dared to defy them to begin with. Today won’t see the kind of dramatic takedown of Barr that so many Americans have been hoping for. But it’s instead the kind of takedown in which Barr had to give House Democrats want they wanted, and now they’re still going to spank him anyway. That’s a whole new way for Barr to lose.

June 10

Barr's Powerwilliam barr smile fox screengrab Small

ny times logoNew York Times, People Are Trying to Figure Out William Barr. He’s Busy Stockpiling Power, Sharon LaFraniere, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 10, 2019 (print ed.). Is he the operator who spun the then-secret Mueller report? Or the straight shooter who later disclosed portions that were damaging to President Trump?

His rising power over the intelligence community has been accompanied by swelling disillusionment with Mr. Barr among former national security officials and ideological moderates. When he agreed late last year to take the job, many of them had cast him as a Republican straight shooter, steeped in pre-Trump mores, who would restrain an impetuous president.

Now they see in him someone who has glossed over Mr. Trump’s misdeeds, smeared his investigators and positioned himself to possibly declassify information for political gain — not the Bill Barr they thought they knew.

“It is shocking how much he has echoed the president’s own statements,” said Mary McCord, who led the Justice Department’s national security division at the end of the Obama administration and the start of the Trump era. “I thought he was an institutionalist who would protect the department from political influence. But it seems like everything he has done so far has counseled in the opposite direction.”

An examination of his record, coupled with interviews of more than two dozen associates, suggests elements of both: He is neither as apolitical as his defenders claim, nor as partisan as his detractors fear. Instead, he is a complex figure whom the right cannot count on to be a Trumpland hero and whom the left cannot dismiss as nothing more than a political hack.

Trump Watch

justice department logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Agrees to Turn Over Key Mueller Evidence to House, Nicholas Fandos, June 10, 2019. The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert S. Mueller III that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday.

jerrold nadler o SmallThe exact scope of the material the Justice Department has agreed to provide was not immediately clear, though the committee signaled that it could be a breakthrough after weeks of wrangling over those materials and others that the Judiciary panel demanded under subpoena. The Trump administration’s blockade of the material had ground the Democratic investigations of Mr. Trump’s possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power to a halt.

“These documents will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the president by the special counsel,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, right, the committee chairman, said in a statement.

Mr. Nadler said he expected the department to begin sharing some of the material Monday afternoon and that all members of the committee would be able to view it privately.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Democrats score huge victory over William Barr, Bill Palmer, June 10, 2019. William Barr has just now offered to give the House Judiciary Committee bill palmer report logo headereverything it wants about the Mueller report. Not only that, Barr offered to start turning over the evidence later today. Accordingly, the committee has decided to take up Barr on his offer, based on a statement released by committee chair Jerry Nadler.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes off the deep end as his Mexico tariff scam falls apart, Bill Palmer, June 10, 2019. Donald Trump thought he could pull a fast one on djt smiling fileAmericans. He got Mexico to secretly agree to a sham immigration deal which didn’t require Mexico to do a single thing it wasn’t already doing. Then he threatened ludicrous tariffs if Mexico didn’t give him something. Then he unveiled the prearranged sham deal and claimed that it meant he’d won.

bill palmer report logo headerPredictably, everyone outside Trump’s idiot base rolled their eyes and laughed at this two-bit con artistry. Even after Republican leaders in Congress tried to help give Trump’s scam credibility by congratulating him for the laugh-out-loud phony victory, the media was busy confirming what normal Americans already instinctively knew: the whole thing was a fraud. This sent Trump off the deep end.

Trump posted a long and rambling multi-part tweet today in which he claimed that Mexico has also agreed to other unspecified concessions that were somehow “not mentioned” in the press release that the Trump regime sent out about the deal. Trump seemed so unsure in his ability to sell this load of crap, he changed course mid-sentence and claimed USTR seal Custom 2that there was only “one [concession] in particular” – while still declining to say what it supposedly is.

But really, most of Donald Trump’s deep-end rant was aimed at the news outlets that helped expose his tariff scam: “The Failing NY Times, & ratings challenged CNN, will do anything possible to see our Country fail! They are truly The Enemy of the People!” Tellingly, this came just minutes after Trump demanded that his supporters had an absolute right to “freedom of speech” on Twitter, even if they were violating Twitter’s rules in the process. Of course when you’ve shoveling this kind of crap to crap addicts, none of it has to make sense.

June 9

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Mueller Is No Match for Trump’s Shamelessness and Indecency, Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, June 9, 2019. President Donald Trump’s complete lack of shame and total disregard for the truth help him when he goes up against anybody with honor and a sense of duty.

June 7

Trump Watch

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: Seven Myths about the Path Forward, Bill Yeomans, June 7, 2019. It’s time to take on some of the myths that permeate discussion of how to proceed in bill yeomans afj cropped Customsubjecting Donald Trump to the rule of law. The list is not exhaustive.

1. The House needs to conduct oversight to obtain more facts to decide whether to open an impeachment inquiry. Nope – the Mueller report is more than enough. 1,000 former federal prosecutors. Trump resistance – diffuse investigations tied up in court. Public not following. By saying it needs to investigate further to know whether to open an inquiry, the majority minimizes the gravity of the facts already in the public record. It undermines any sense of urgency.

2. Because a majority of the public does not support impeachment, the House should back off. No. The public doesn’t understand impeachment. Many think it means removal from office, rather than the first step in a two-part process. Also, Nixon’s poll numbers when the Watergate process started were much better than Trump’s are now. Nixon’s approval hovered in the mid-60’s and support for impeachment was in the teens. Trump is historically unpopular. His approval rating hovers around 40 percent and about the same percentage think he should be impeached. Also, the impeachment process can change minds. Very few people have plowed through the alliance for justice logoentire Mueller report. But, they will watch impeachment hearings on TV. If the House majority handles the process well, the portrait of Trump will be devastating.

3. Impeachment inevitably will lead to exoneration in the Senate, which will boost Trump. Nothing is certain. If the House makes a referral, will McConnell even hold a trial, or will he treat the referral like the second coming of Merrick Garland? If he does convene a trial, it will consume a lot of Senate floor time that would otherwise be spent confirming judges who refuse to express their support for Brown v. Bd. of Education. Even if Trump is not removed, the trial will bombard the public with Trump’s misdeeds. Prof. Larry Tribe has suggested the possibility that the House could impeach Trump without making a referral to the Senate for a trial. The House could decide after all of the evidence is in whether it is worthwhile to send the case to the Senate. It could decide simply to let the impeachment stand without a trial.

washington post logoelijah cummings o

Washington Post, House likely to hold Barr, Ross in contempt after subpoena demands are rejected, Colby Itkowitz, June 7, 2019. The Department of Justice informed Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, right, it won’t comply with a request for more documents about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at Pelosi after she said she’d like to see him in prison, John Wagner​, June 7, 2019. In an interview with Fox News, the president made his first public comments about recent remarks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made while trying to quell impeachment talk among Democrats.

donald trump twitter“I think she’s a disgrace,” Trump said on Fox News. “I actually don’t think she’s a talented person. I’ve tried to be nice to her because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She’s incapable of doing deals. She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.”

The interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham was conducted at the site of a solemn ceremony in France commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Against the backdrop of a cemetery where nearly 10,000 American war dead are buried, Trump also called Senate Minority Leader robert mueller full face fileCharles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) a “jerk” and former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, a “fool.”

Trump’s tirade about Pelosi (D-Calif.) came in response to a question about comments she made during a meeting Tuesday night with five of her committee chairmen. Trying to tamp down impeachment talk about Trump, Pelosi said she would rather “see him in prison” after leaving office, according to two Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Beware the 'Trump Trump Macoute,' Wayne Madsen (above, syndicated columnist, former National Security Agency analyst), June 7, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). For anyone who does not believe that Trump has the motive and the means to command a network of vigilantes capable of carrying out political assassinations, torching opposition campaign offices, beating up opposition political campaign volunteers, and attacking journalists, think again, because we have already witnessed the advent of such operations.

ap logoAssociated Press via Huffpost, Trump Supporter Arrested After Allegedly Threatening To Kill Members of Congress, Brady McCombs, June 7, 2019. A Utah man has been arrested on accusations he threatened to kill members of Congress during a three-year stretch with more than 2,000 phone calls to the U.S. Capitol and profanity-laden tirades about Democrats threatening the presidency of Donald Trump.

scott havenIn one call last month, Scott Brian Haven, right, dialed the office of an unnamed U.S. representative and purported to be standing right behind him and ready to “shoot him in the head” because “the Russians want him taken out because he is trying to remove a duly elected President,” according to charging documents unsealed Wednesday.

Haven, 54, said, “I’m going to do it now, are you ready?” before hanging up, prosecutors allege.

He was arrested Tuesday in his hometown of Kaysville, Utah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City. He is charged with interstate transmission of threats to injure. State online records indicate he has no criminal history in Utah.

republican elephant logoAt his initial hearing Wednesday, a magistrate judge ordered Haven to remain jailed pending the outcome of the case, calling him a danger to the community.

Haven commonly alluded to him and other gun owners taking matters into their own hands, charging documents show. He told a staffer for an unnamed senator in September 2018 that there were “far more Second Amendment people than whiny, crying liberals,” the documents said. He called back the next month to the same office and said, “We will exercise our Second Amendment rights to address Democrat mobs that threaten conservatives,” according to the documents.

Haven threatened to cut off the heads of two senators in another call and in yet another one identified himself as Hitler and yelled repeatedly he would “put a bullet” in the head of the senator, the documents said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi just sent Democratic House committee chairs off to the races, Bill Palmer, June 6, 2019.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi upped her war of nancy pelosi djt 2 olderwords with Donald Trump this week, stating that she wants him to go to prison for his crimes, setting off all kinds of alarms in the process. But it turns out Pelosi is doing more than just getting inside Trump’s head. She just sent Democratic House committee chairs off to the races when it comes to cracking down on non-cooperating individuals.

In TV pundit land, and in certain corners of social media, impeachment is a magic wand that can send Donald Trump instantly through a trap door – and House Democrats are refusing to wave that magic wand because they’re wusses. But back in the real world, that’s not how anything works, of course. With or without the word “impeachment” attached, House Democrats are currently facing the same grueling process of fighting legal battles in court to obtain the testimony and evidence they need in order to move against Trump. That process just got sped up quite a bit.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening Pelosi gave Democratic House committee chairs the power to go after non-cooperators and obstructors in court, without having to circle back and get the full House’s approval each time they need to take a step forward with it. This means that not only will the committee chairs sue people like William Barr, Don McGahn, Wilbur Ross, and Annie Donaldson, the chairs are now in position to hire private attorneys to go into court and help speed that process along.

The TV pundits who are claiming that yelling the word “impeachment” will magically cause Trump to instantly be ousted, are the same pundits who are insisting that any court battles over evidence and testimony will take years. But as we’ve seen from the multiple court rulings the Democrats have already won against Trump over his financial records, nothing actually takes that long, because the courts are prioritizing these cases. Now the process just became a swifter one.

Trump's Global Patrons, Enemies

djt saudi medal may 20 2017 afp

Saudi Arabia's king bestowed a medal on President Trump in May 2017 during the new president's first overseas trip, signifying the core relationship between the wealthy feudal monarchy and the new U.S. administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Allows High-Tech U.S. Bomb Parts to Be Built in Saudi Arabia, Michael LaForgia and Walt Bogdanich, June 7, 2019. Tucked into an emergency order to sell arms to Saudi Arabia is the approval for a defense company to team with the Saudis to build bomb parts there. It raises concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them make versions of American precision-guided bombs.

When the Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia, it did more than anger members of Congress who opposed the sale on humanitarian grounds.

raytheon logoIt also raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs — weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago.

The emergency authorization allows Raytheon Company, a top American defense firm, to team with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia. That provision, which has not been previously reported, is part of a broad package of information the administration released this week to Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: President Trump’s twists on Iran have confounded Europe, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, June 7, 2019. President Trump and his aides have sent a dizzying, seemingly conflicting set of messages to Iran in recent weeks, ordering more troops to the Middle East and a carrier to the Arabian Sea as military threats even iran flag mapwhile declaring that Washington is seeking new negotiations, not war.

European allies, still trying to save a 2015 deal to restrain Iran’s nuclear program that Mr. Trump abandoned a year ago, are trying to make sense of the administration’s strategy.

And the government in Tehran, humiliated by Mr. Trump’s hard-line policies, has all but frozen diplomacy with Washington. “Standing and resisting the enemy’s excessive demands and bullying is the only way to stop him,” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday.

trump family london june 2019

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump family’s trip to Europe raises questions, David Nakamura, Toluse Olorunnipa and Amanda Ferguson, June 7, 2019 (print ed.). As parties go, it’s hard to top a state dinner with the queen of England, but President Trump’s sons — Donald Jr. and Eric — tried to keep the revelry going during an impromptu pub crawl in Doonbeg, Ireland, where they bought rounds of Guinness for the locals and reveled in the adoration of a village where the Trump family owns property.

jared ivanka london june 2019“It’s exciting when Trump comes into town, isn’t it?” Eric Trump declared Wednesday evening amid the festivities.

Not just Trump, but the Trumps — decidedly plural. As the president has hopscotched on official duties between three European nations this week, his four adult children — also including daughters Ivanka and Tiffany — have been prominently involved in many high-profile moments. Three of the children are shown below in a file photo.

If the display sought to project the Trumps as global goodwill ambassadors for the United States, it has also raised questions given the president’s refusal to draw strict boundaries between his official duties and his private business.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Barnes & Noble was sold to a hedge fund after a tumultuous year, Alexandra Alter and Tiffany Hsu, June 7, 2019. Barnes & Noble has been acquired by the paul singerhedge fund Elliott Advisors for $638 million. JIP editor's note: Elliott Advisors is the UK-based affiliated of Elliott Management Corp., whose New York-based parent company was founded by Paul Singer, right, a financially successful investor sometimes described as a ruther "vulture fund" tycoon dealing in distressed properties.

The sale was announced Friday morning following months of speculation over the future of Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United barnes nobleStates and a critical retail outlet for publishers and authors.

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble follows its purchase of the British bookstore chain Waterstones in June 2018. James Daunt, the chief executive of Waterstones, will also act as Barnes & Noble’s C.E.O. and will be based in New York. Waterstones has pursued a strategy that many analysts say is the only way to compete in a marketplace dominated by online sales, by allowing individual Waterstones booksellers to tailor each store to acommunity’s needs and interests. Mr. Daunt, who took over in 2011, has said that Waterstones operates more like a constellation of independent stores, rather than a homogeneous chain.

June 6

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ending trip to Europe by staying at his money-losing golf course threatened by climate change, David A. Fahrenthold, June 6, 2019 (print ed.). Despite the odd geography of the schedule — which requires flying hundreds of miles west to Ireland, then hundreds more miles back east to France — the president said he stayed at Doonbeg for convenience.

President Trump arrived at his golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland, on Wednesday for a two-night stay — pausing between official events in Europe to visit a business that has cost him $41 million and never reported turning a profit.

Trump, coming off an official state visit to Britain, landed at Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland and met briefly with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before flying to Doonbeg, about 40 miles away. he Irish Times reported that Trump originally wanted to meet with Varadkar at his golf club, but Varadkar wanted to meet at another nearby hotel. The two leaders settled on an awkward compromise: the VIP lounge at the airport.

washington post logoWashington Post, Wealthy Iraqi sheikh who urges a hard-line approach to Iran spent 26 nights at Trump hotel, Joshua Partlow, David A. Fahrenthold and Taylor Luck​, June 6, 2019. The stay by Nahro al-Kasnazan shows how the hotel attracts foreigners who have an agenda to pursue with the administration.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, How a watchdog whitewashed its oversight of FEMA’s disaster response, Lisa Rein and Kimberly Kindy, June 6, 2019. The Homeland Security inspector general has since retracted 13 “feel good reports.”

After catastrophic floodwaters submerged wide stretches of southern Louisiana in 2016, displaced homeowners and officials criticized the federal recovery effort as dangerously slow, leaving thousands of people homeless for months.

Auditors in the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office confirmed problems with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s performance in Louisiana — and 11 other states hit over five years by hurricanes, mudslides and other disasters.

But the auditors’ boss, John V. Kelly, instead directed them to produce what they called “feel good reports” that airbrushed most problems and portrayed emergency responders as heroes overcoming vast challenges, according to interviews and a new internal review.

washington post logolaurence tribeWashington Post, Opinion: Impeach Trump. But don’t necessarily try him in the Senate, Laurence H. Tribe, June 5, 2019. Laurence H. Tribe, right, is the University Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard and the coauthor, most recently, of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.”

The House, assuming an impeachment inquiry leads to a conclusion of Trump’s guilt, could choose between presenting articles of impeachment even to a Senate pre-committed to burying them and dispensing with impeachment as such while embodying its conclusions of criminality or other grave wrongdoing in a condemnatory “Sense of the House” resolution far stronger than a mere censure. The resolution, expressly and formally proclaiming the president impeachable but declining to play the Senate’s corrupt game, is one that even a president accustomed to treating everything as a victory would be hard-pressed to characterize as a vindication. (A House resolution finding the president “impeachable” but imposing no actual legal penalty would avoid the Constitution’s ban on Bills of Attainder, despite its deliberately stigmatizing character as a “Scarlet ‘I’ ” that Trump would have to take with him into his reelection campaign.)

The point would not be to take old-school House impeachment leading to possible Senate removal off the table at the outset. Instead, the idea would be to build into the very design of this particular inquiry an offramp that would make bypassing the Senate an option while also nourishing the hope that a public fully educated about what this president did would make even a Senate beholden to this president and manifestly lacking in political courage willing to bite the bullet and remove him.

By resolving now to pursue such a path, always keeping open the possibility that its inquiry would unexpectedly lead to the president’s exoneration, the House would be doing the right thing as a constitutional matter. It would be acting consistent with its overriding obligation to establish that no president is above the law, all the while keeping an eye on the balance of political considerations without setting the dangerous precedent that there are no limits to what a corrupt president can get away with as long as he has a compliant Senate to back him. And pursuing this course would preserve for all time the tale of this uniquely troubled presidency.

June 4

New House Strategy Probing Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The House Judiciary Committee gets it, we hope, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 4, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the jennifer rubin new headshotMueller report — but the report’s author will not attend. The panel announced Monday that it will convene on June 10 for a hearing titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.”

Former U.S. attorneys and legal experts are expected to attend, as is John W. Dean III, the former White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon who accused Nixon of being directly involved in the Watergate coverup and later served four months in prison for obstruction of justice.

This seems to comport with the suggestion that fights over process (who must appear, which redacted portions of the report must be revealed) have unnecessarily swamped the House, to the detriment of the much-needed task of educating the public as to what is in the special counsel’s report.

One would hope, however, that former White House counsel Donald McGahn is subpoenaed to provide a firsthand account of the president’s persistent directives to fire Robert S. Mueller III.

jerrold nadler o SmallRep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), left, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “These hearings will allow us to examine the findings laid out in Mueller’s report so that we can work to protect the rule of law and protect future elections through consideration of legislative and other remedies.” He added, “Given the threat posed by the President’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report.”

Former prosecutor Mimi Rocah told me, “This is a good and smart first step to get the public’s focus back onto the devastating facts and evidence in the Mueller Report.” She explained, “Having non-partisan former prosecutors explain how Trump’s conduct constitutes obstruction of justice in ways that Mueller felt he could not makes total sense.”

washington post logoWashington Post, House Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on Mueller report, without Mueller, Felicia Sonmez and Rachael Bade, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). The report is my testimony': Mueller would not provide Congress new information. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Mueller report — but the report’s author will not attend.

The panel announced Monday that it will convene on June 10 for a hearing titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.”

john dean manafort plea screengrabFormer U.S. attorneys and legal experts are expected to attend, as is John W. Dean III, the former White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon who accused Nixon of being directly involved in the Watergate coverup and later served four months in prison for obstruction of justice. He is shown at right in a screenshot from one of his many cable news appearances as a commentator.

But Robert S. Mueller III, the now-former special counsel who led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, is not expected to testify, according to the committee.

“Given the threat posed by the president’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Former Trump Advisor Charged With Kiddie Porn

washington post logoWashington Post, Figure linked to Trump transition charged with transporting child pornography, Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). A key witness in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference has been charged with transporting child pornography last year, according to court documents. George Nader, who had a previous criminal record on such charges, was charged in federal court in Virginia, and is expected to make an initial court appearance in New York.

george nader djtNader (shown with Trump) played an unusual role as a kind of liaison between Trump supporters, Middle East leaders and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017.

Officials said Nader, 60, was charged by criminal complaint over material he was traveling with when he arrived at Washington-Dulles International Airport on Jan. 17, 2018, from Dubai. At the time, he was carrying a cellphone containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, officials said. The charges were unsealed after his arrest Monday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

If convicted, Nader faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years, officials said.

Nader was known to Trump associates as someone with political connections in the Middle East who could help them navigate the diplomacy of the region.

[New court documents offer new details about witness in Mueller probe]

He helped arrange a meeting in the Seychelles in January 2017 between Erik Prince, a Trump supporter who founded the private security firm Blackwater, and a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. The purpose of the meeting was of particular interest to Mueller’s investigators, and some questions about it remain unanswered, even after Mueller issued a 448-page report on his findings.

Trump In Britain

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump humiliates himself in the UK while everything goes wrong for him back home, Bill Palmer, June 4, 2019. Donald Trump is over in the UK right bill palmer report logo headernow, picking a fight with the Mayor of London, having a meltdown because CNN was too mean to him, and insisting that the large crowds of anti-Trump protesters in his vicinity don’t exist. But this is just the beginning of his problems. For instance, George Nader, a close ally of his 2016 campaign, was arrested yesterday on child pornography charges. Not only does this point to Nader fully flipping on Trump, it points to additional sealed indictments being in place against Trump’s various allies. But that’s just the half of it.

donald trump twitterYesterday the House Judiciary Committee announced that key Watergate figure John Dean will publicly testify next Monday as an expert witness with regard to Donald Trump’s felony obstruction of justice. Then the full House announced it’ll vote to hold Trump’s Attorney General William Barr in contempt next Tuesday. Then the House Oversight Committee announced it’s also holding Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt. Somewhere in there, the House Majority Whip – whose job is to count the votes on these things – confirmed that Trump will end up being impeached.

Every time Donald Trump goes overseas, his criminal scandals go poorly for him back home. In fact his criminal scandals go poorly for him even when he’s not overseas. But something about this trip, and these past twenty-four hours in particular, feels different. House Democrats are rolling out their strategy against him. Mueller still has far more up his sleeve than anyone knew. And Trump is stuck in London, where he can’t even calm himself by watching the propaganda on Fox News.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Former Business Partner Alleges the Trumps Evaded Taxes in Panama, Ben Protess and Steve Eder, June 4, 2019 (print ed.). The owners of a luxury hotel in Panama City that ousted the Trump Organization as property managers last year accused it on Monday of evading taxes in Panama and creating a “false light” around the hotel’s finances.

The accusations, made in a legal filing in Manhattan federal court, are fraught with potential diplomatic and legal complexities for President Trump. They essentially assert that his family business cheated a foreign government, a claim the Trump Organization characterized in a statement as “completely false.”

The president’s company, the filing alleges, “also made fraudulent and false claims to the Panamanian tax authorities” to “cover up its unlawful activities.” This was originally detected during an audit last year by that country’s tax agency, according to the filing.

It was not possible to immediately verify accusations in the filing that the Trump Organization did not fulfill its obligation as managers to ensure all the hotel’s taxes were paid, including those related to the Trumps’ management fees. Panamanian law imposes a tax on commissions paid to foreign businesses, but the Trumps’ management fees may have qualified for an exemption.

Manafort Prosecutions

ny times logoNew York Times, Paul Manafort to Be Sent to Rikers, Where He Faces Solitary Confinement, William K. Rashbaum, June 4, 2019. Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, is expected to be transferred as early as this week to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City, where he will most likely be held in solitary confinement while facing state fraud charges, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mr. Manafort was convicted last year on federal bank fraud, tax and conspiracy charges in two related cases and is serving a seven-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence in Pennsylvania. The Manhattan district attorney obtained an indictment of Mr. Manafort on state mortgage fraud charges in an effort to ensure he would still face prison if Mr. Trump pardoned him for his federal crimes.

paul manafort mugMr. Manafort, 70, shown in a mug shot, will most likely be arraigned on the new charges in State Supreme Court in Manhattan later this month and held at Rikers, though his lawyers could seek to have him held at a federal jail in New York, the people with knowledge said.

High-profile inmates are generally held in protective custody on Rikers Island, a network of nine jails with a total of 7,500 inmates, including pretrial detainees and convicts serving sentences of a year or less. Inmates in protective custody are isolated from the general population under heavy guard.

Rikers Island has been plagued by violence and mismanagement over the years prompting efforts to close the jail complex. On March 13, a Manhattan grand jury handed up an indictment charging Mr. Manafort with 16 state felonies, including residential mortgage fraud, and accusing him of a yearlong scheme in which he allegedly falsified business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. The new case was brought by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

June 3

Swamp Watch

GQ, The Political Costs of Not Impeaching Trump, Adam Jentleson (former deputy chief of staff to former Senate majority leader Harry Reid), June 3, 2019. Democrats are ceding legitimacy to Trump’s claims of exoneration by giving him a pass. It is a long way from June 2019 to November 2020. And as they say in Boston, you can’t get there from here. Hoping everything turns out well while giving Trump free space to wield his power is unlikely to end well.

The fight will be hard for House Democrats and the appeal of dodging it is strong. But like the monsters in “It Follows,” this fight will find you. It already has. There is no way over, under, or around impeachment — only through.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedOn February 13, 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died. Before his body was in the ground, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, announced he would block anyone President Barack Obama nominated to fill Scalia’s seat. The next week, Jeb Bush dropped out of the Republican primary, quickly followed by Marco Rubio, and eventually Ted Cruz, leaving Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee. Polls showed Hillary Clinton beating Trump by solid margins, with forecasters pegging her chances of victory from 71 to 85 percent, and Democrats favored to take back the Senate.

I was working for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid at the time. Being in the minority limited our options for overcoming McConnell’s blockade. But whenever we started to contemplate more aggressive tactics, they were dismissed on the theory that the upcoming election would sort everything out. Why rock the boat, we told ourselves. We’re on a glide path to victory in November, and then President Clinton will submit her Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed by a Democratic Senate.

The rest is history. McConnell’s decision to block Garland consolidated Republican support behind Trump and helped him pull off a narrow victory. Instead of a Democratic president appointing a liberal justice to tilt the balance of the Supreme Court, Trump has appointed two justices to entrench a conservative majority for a generation.

Republicans wielded their power while we hoped for the best. And the course of history was altered forever.

There are two lessons here for House Democrats as they debate whether to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

First, polling can change. I don’t know how else to say this: getting impeached is bad. It is not something you want to happen to you, especially if you’re president. You do not want to go down as one of only four presidents in history to be impeached. This is a bad thing. Only Democrats, bless our hearts, could convince ourselves that it is good for a president to be impeached.

richard nixon wRichard Nixon’s approval rating was at 65 percent when his impeachment process began and only 19 percent of the public supported his impeachment. By the end, the numbers had flipped: his approval was 24 percent and support for impeachment was 57 percent. Former president Bill Clinton survived because he was popular and the man pursuing him, Independent Counsel Ken Starr, was not. The public rightly thought Starr was on a fishing expedition. By contrast, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is popular and the public thinks he is fair, while Trump is historically unpopular. Even though Clinton survived, his heir apparent lost the next election—which he had been heavily favored to win—while Republicans gained seats in Congress.

The second lesson from the Garland experience is that like nature, power abhors a vacuum. The decision not to impeach is not a decision to focus on other things, it is a decision to cede power, control, and legitimacy to Trump. Trump is not a master chess player, he just bluffs his opponents into forfeiting their moves — and that is exactly what he is doing to House Democrats.

ny times logoelaine chao oNew York Times, A ‘Bridge’ to China, and Her Family’s Business, in the Trump Cabinet, Michael Forsythe, Eric Lipton, Keith Bradsher and Sui-Lee Wee, June 3, 2019 (print ed.). Elaine Chao, right, the transportation secretary, has repeatedly used her connections in China to boost the profile of her family’s shipping company. Her proximity to Foremost Group has raised ethics questions, as the firm benefits from policies in China that are roiling the White House.

In China, the Chaos are no ordinary family. They run an American shipping company with deep ties to the economic and political elite in China, where most of the company’s business is centered.

The email arrived in Washington before dawn. An official at the American Embassy in Beijing was urgently seeking advice from the State Department about transportation dept logoan “ethics question.”

Ms. Chao’s office had made a series of unorthodox requests related to her first scheduled visit to China as a Trump cabinet member, according to people with knowledge of the email. Among them: asking federal officials to help coordinate travel arrangements for at least one family member and include relatives china flag Smallin meetings with government officials.

The trip was abruptly canceled by Ms. Chao after the ethics question was referred to officials in the State and Transportation Departments and, separately, after The New York Times and others made inquiries about her itinerary and companions.

ny times logogeorge h w bush mitch mcconnell 1991 elaine chaoNew York Times, The Chao family has deep ties to the world’s two largest economies. Here are five takeaways, Michael Forsythe and Eric Lipton, June 3, 2019 (print ed.). The family of Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary and wife of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader (shown together in a 1991 photo with President George H. W. Bush), has high-level political connections not only in the United States but also in China. That gives the family unusual status in the world’s two largest economies.

james chao elaine chao fatherThrough interviews, industry filings and government documents from both countries, The New York Times found that the Chaos, and by extension Mr. McConnell, prospered as the family’s shipping company developed deeper business ties in China.

Along the way, one of the company’s boosters was Ms. Chao, who now oversees efforts to promote America’s own maritime industry, which is in steep decline as China’s shipping sector rises in global dominance. Here are five takeaways.

china flag SmallJames S.C. Chao, 91,above left, Ms. Chao’s father, studied navigation at a university in Shanghai before fleeing the mainland ahead of the Communist takeover in 1949. His schoolmate for a time was Jiang Zemin, who would become China’s president.

Perception Management

william barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What was William Barr’s fleece vest trying to tell us? Monica Hesse,June 3, 2019 (print ed.). He could have worn a suit for his TV interview. But the attorney general picked a folksier vibe for floating conspiracy theories.

William Barr showed up to his CBS This Morning interview looking like he was prepared to discuss not the investigation into possible Russian coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign but rather how to bait a fishing hook. The attorney general was working a distinctly “River Runs Through It” cosplay vibe: a tan half-zipped fleece vest over a checked button-down shirt, and in the background, a roaring fire.

cub scout webelos badgeTo be fair, the interview, which aired Friday, did take place in Alaska, where Barr was traveling. But there are business suits available in Alaska; Barr had worn one earlier on the trip, during a meeting about rural law enforcement issues. his decision to skip a suit as he held forth on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation seemed like an attempt to communicate a message.

And that message was: I am a man of the people, and I am here to speak truths and help you earn a [Cub Scout] Webelos badge.

Trump In Britain

 

bo djt uss john mccain

Sample protests against Trump on his visit to the United Kingdom: image of the ship named after his hated rival, the late Sen. John McCain, and a showing of UK approval ratings showing Trump's as less than a third of former President  Obama's.

CBS News, Anti-Brexit group taunts Trump with images of USS John McCain and Obama's approval rating projected onto London landmarks, Caitlin O'Kane, June 3, 2019. cbs news logoLondoners are making quite the effort to taunt Donald Trump during his U.K. visit. The anti-Brexit group "Led by Donkeys" appears to be going above and beyond simple protests by using large-scale images projected onto London landmarks.

The group typically protests Brexit by plastering tweets and comments made my British leaders on buildings and billboards. On Monday night, they turned their attention towards Mr. Trump, who arrived that day in London with the first lady.

A red hat featuring the USS John McCain appeared on the facade of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum that evening. "Hey @realDonaldTrump, we read the story about the sailors on a US warship being ordered to hide from you because you're triggered by the name on their hats," Led by Donkeys tweeted. "So we turned Madame Tussaud's into a giant USS John McCain baseball cap. Welcome to London!"

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, in Britain for a state visit, criticizes London mayor, Toluse Olorunnipa, William Booth and Anne Gearan​, June 3, 2019. Trump is visiting Queen Elizabeth II as part of three days of pomp and circumstance. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has objected to plans to fete Trump, who responded on Twitter by criticizing Khan’s record and his height.

Even before President Trump arrived in London on Monday for three days of planned pomp and circumstance, his state visit had already become dominated by insults and political intrigue.

sadik kahn djt

Hours before he was scheduled to visit Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, the president launched a Twitter attack against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has publicly objected to the plan to fete Trump with a ceremonial state visit. Trump responded by criticizing Khan’s record as mayor and attacking him over his height. Khan and Trump are shown in separate file photos.

“@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me,” Trump wrote on Twitter as Air Force One was about to land in Britain. “Kahn [sic] reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job - only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!”

washington post logoatt logoWashington Post, Trump urges customers to drop AT&T to punish CNN over its coverage of him, Taylor Telford​, June 3, 2019. The president has repeatedly taken aim at the network and its top on-air personalities. President Trump raised a familiar complaint — “unfair” coverage by CNN — in a pair of Monday morning tweets. But this time he called on supporters to boycott the cable news network’s corporate parent, AT&T, to drive the point home.

“I believe that if people stoped [sic] using or subscribing to AT&T, they would be forced to make big changes at CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway,” Trump tweeted. “It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News!”

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Dear Robert Mueller: Your report can’t speak for itself, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 3, 2019. I was struck by a line in a Politico article about your public statement last week: “Mueller all but said Congress’ only recourse to hold Trump accountable is impeachment.”

I’m sorry, Mr. Mueller. “All but said” is not good enough. Do you say it, or do you not?

You are dealing here with a president happy to tear the law and the truth — and, for that matter, you — to pieces. Do you feel no responsibility to set the record straight when Trump distorts it day after day? You claim that, under the rules, it would have been wrong for you to say Trump broke the law. But that’s not what your boss, the attorney general, says.

 

May

May 31

Barr Defies Flynn Judge

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 31, 2019. The Justice Department also declined to give an unredacted version of parts of the Mueller report related to Michael Flynn. Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn (shown below left in a file photo) and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.

michael flynn state department CustomIn a court filing Friday, the Justice Department wrote that it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.

Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.

Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. He is awaiting sentencing.

emmet sullivan 2012The government’s unusual response came after U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, right,  in Washington ordered earlier in May that the Justice Department make public various materials related to the case, including transcripts of any audio recordings of Flynn, such as his conversations with Russian officials.

Prosecutors provided one item that Sullivan ordered be released: a transcript of a voice mail left by an attorney for Trump, much of which had already appeared in Mueller’s report. It is unclear how the judge will react to the government’s noncompliance with other elements of his order. Late last year, Sullivan postponed Flynn’s sentencing after angrily lambasting the former national security adviser for his actions, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrats tell intelligence chiefs they must help monitor Barr’s review of Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, May 31, 2019. The House Intelligence william barr new oCommittee chairman sent letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security.

In a separate letter, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), asked the spy chiefs to “immediately” inform the panel “if you see signs” that Barr’s inquiry risks compromising intelligence-gathering sources and methods, affecting relationships with foreign liaisons, or adversely impacting the intelligence community’s workforce.

He also asked that they notify the panel of any “selective declassification” that appeared politically motivated.Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, demanding in-person briefings to discuss what materials the attorney general has sought thus far.

cbs news logoCBS News, Barr Explains his differences with Mueller on obstruction, Jan Crawford, May 31, 2019. Attorney General William Barr sat down for an exclusive interview with Jan Crawford for "CBS This Morning." He told Crawford helieves special counsel Robert Mueller could have reached a decision on whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice, regardless of long-standing Justice Department policy that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president.

william barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

During a nearly hour-long interview in Anchorage, Alaska, CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford (shown above with Barr) pressed the attorney general on a number of issues from obstruction to his new review of the Russia investigation.

William Barr interview: Read the full transcript

“Once I realized it was going to take three or four weeks, I felt I had to say something in the interim,” Mr. Barr said.

One comment by Mr. Barr raised tensions with his congressional testimony about whose interpretation of the law he had applied to the evidence in pronouncing the president cleared of obstruction.

Mr. Barr has taken the position that obstruction laws cannot apply to presidents who abuse their official powers to impede investigations for corrupt reasons. Mr. Mueller’s report insisted obstruction laws do apply to presidents.

In Senate testimony on May 1, Mr. Barr said that while he disagreed with Mr. Mueller that official presidential actions could be obstruction as a matter of law, he had accepted the special counsel’s understanding of the law for his own analysis of the facts. Even so, he said, the evidence fell short of showing a crime.

May 30

Mueller Speaks

  Read a transcript of Mr. Mueller’s statement on the investigation.

robert mueller screenshot washington post

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Decoding Robert Mueller, Editorial Board, May 30, 2019 (print ed.). In short: No exoneration. (And please don’t make me testify!)  After two years of frenzied speculation, the special counsel Robert Mueller (shown above in a file photo) at last spoke publicly about his investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections.

His statement Wednesday was considered and temperate, its delivery passionless, if not robotic. If you tuned out for a moment — and who could blame you — you might have missed the import of the messages encoded in Mr. Mueller’s cautious language. Yet if you listened carefully, both for what he said and what he did not say, the statement was quite clarifying. Below are Mr. Mueller’s key points, translated.

After briefly reviewing his mandate, as laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mr. Mueller announced that his team was “formally closing the special counsel’s office,” that he was leaving the Justice Department and that “beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself.”

Translation: I’m done with this political circus. To understand my findings, read my report. Please don’t ask me to testify.

Mr. Mueller was careful to emphasize that if his office “had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Translation: There’s a decent chance the president committed a crime.

He went on to point out that “under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional.” He added, “Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

Translation: This was not about a lack of evidence, and it certainly doesn’t amount to the “exoneration” President Trump has claimed. We couldn’t indict because we weren’t allowed to indict. We did, however, draw Congress a detailed map of the multiple ways that this president may have obstructed justice.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump attacks Mueller after former special counsel speaks on probe, John Wagner, May 30, 2019. President Trump also seemingly acknowledged for the first time that Russia had helped him win in 2016 — but later strongly pushed back against that notion.

President Trump on Thursday attacked Robert S. Mueller III as “totally conflicted” and “a true never-Trumper” and claimed that the special counsel would have brought charges against him if he had any evidence — a characterization directly at odds with what Mueller said in a public statement Wednesday.

Trump’s attacks came in morning tweets and later while speaking to reporters at the White House. In one of his tweets, he also seemingly acknowledged for the first time that Russia had helped him get elected in 2016 — but he strongly pushed back against that notion while talking to reporters as he prepared to leave Washington

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller, in Frst Comments on Russia Inquiry, Declines to Clear Trump, Sharon LaFraniere and Eileen Sullivan, May 30, 2019 (print ed.). Robert S. Mueller III characterized for the first time his investigation of whether President Trump obstructed justice, saying “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

robert mueller full face fileMr. Mueller called his report “my testimony” and said that he would not provide more information.

Reading from notes, he also stressed that Russia’s systematic effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential election “deserves the attention of every American.”

Mr. Mueller has been at the center of a fight between the Trump administration and House Democrats, who want to hear from him about his nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s election interference, possible coordination with the Trump campaign and whether President Trump obstructed justice. The special counsel team concluded that there was no conspiracy by the Trump campaign to coordinate with Russia’s campaign of sabotage.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller says accusing Trump of a crime ‘not an option’ under Justice Dept. guidelines, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Felicia Sonmez, May 30, 2019 (print ed.). Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III announced Wednesday he was closing his office and offered his first public comments on the results of his work, asserting that Justice Department legal guidance prevented him from accusing President Trump of a crime and noting cryptically that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”

Standing alone on stage in a room used for press conferences on the Justice Department’s seventh floor, Mueller reiterated much of what was detailed in his report and sought to explain his decision-making process. He noted that his team found “insufficient evidence” to accuse Trump’s campaign of conspiring with Russia to tilt the 2016 election, but emphasized they did not make a similar determination on whether the president obstructed justice.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime,” Mueller said, “we would have said so.”

Roll Call, Mueller increases pressure on some Democrats to move toward impeachment, Simone Pathé, May 30, 2019 (print ed.). At least one 2020 Democratic hopeful changes his tune after hearing from Mueller Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s brief public remarks on Wednesday added fuel to the already growing fire among some Democrats calling for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

But House Democratic leadership, as well as Democrats working on trying to hold the majority in the chamber in 2020, continued to dampen expectations. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who had previously stopped short of calling for an impeachment inquiry, on Wednesday afternoon joined a handful of other 2020 presidential hopefuls who had already come out in support of taking that step.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday continued her call for Congress to move forward with investigations into the president, but held firm in not advocating impeachment.

May 29

Trump Faces Draft-Dodgering Charge

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces new attacks from Democrats over military deferments, Robert Costa, May 29, 2019 (print ed.). Presidential hopefuls and military veterans Pete Buttigieg and Seth Moulton accused President Trump of faking a condition to avoid service. The attacks could test whether Trump’s coalition, which includes military families, can be cracked.

President Trump, who has touted himself as an unmatched ally of military veterans, is facing pointed new attacks from Democratic presidential candidates who question his medical deferment from service in Vietnam — and, in turn, his patriotism and integrity.

Leading the assault are two military veterans: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.). They have offered searing assessments of Trump, accusing the president of faking a disability and forcing another American of Trump’s generation to risk his life in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Trump, who had been traveling in Japan, has not yet responded to either Democrat, but he has long defended his deferments as legitimate. More broadly, he portrays himself as a vigorous friend to the military, pushing for a buildup of the armed forces, praising military leaders, reaching out to veterans and promising to avoid misguided wars.

But the questioning of the 1968 diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels presents a challenge for a commander in chief who has tapped generals for his Cabinet and asked the Pentagon to plan a parade celebrating the military. It could test whether the president’s political coalition, which includes many military families, can be cracked.

GOP Trump Impeachment Advocate

washington post logoWashington Post, Amash defends call for Trump’s impeachment, says Congress ‘has a duty to keep the president in check,’ David Weigel and John Wagner, May 29, 2019 (print ed.). Rep. Justin Amash, the sole congressional Republican to call for President Trump’s impeachment, said Tuesday that the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III left him with no other option.

Defending his stance, Amash (Mich.) told supporters and opponents at his first town hall since his tweets angered Trump and other Republicans that Congress “has a duty to keep the president in check.”

Trump Appeal Protecting Bank Records

washington post logoWashington Post, House subpoenas for Trump’s bank records put on hold while president appeals, Renae Merle, May 29, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s attorneys have argued that the information being requested would violate his privacy.

Subpoena For Trump Records

 Miami Herald, Prosecutors demand Cindy Yang records from Mar-a-Lago, Trump campaign, Jay Weaver, Sarah Blaskey, Caitlin Ostroff, and Nicholas Nehamas, miami herald logoMay 29, 2019. Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., this week sent subpoenas to Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, and Trump Victory, a political fundraising committee, demanding they turn over all records relating to Republican Party donor Li “Cindy” Yang and several of her associates and companies, the Miami Herald has learned.

djt li yang super bowlYang, right, shown with Trump, a South Florida massage-parlor entrepreneur, is the target of a public corruption investigation seeking to determine if she funneled money from China to the president’s re-election campaign or otherwise violated campaign-finance laws. She became a GOP donor in the 2016 election cycle and opened a consulting company that promised Chinese businesspeople the chance to attend events at Mar-a-Lago and gain access to Trump and his inner circle. Some of those events were campaign fundraisers that required guests to buy tickets for entry, payments that are considered political contributions. Foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to U.S. political campaigns.

Investigators are seeking evidence from Mar-a-Lago and Trump Victory as they build a potential case against Yang and possibly others close to her. The president’s club and the fundraising committee are not the targets of the investigation. The subpoenas cover records from January 2017 to the present. A spokeswoman for Yang did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One subpoena, issued by a federal grand jury in West Palm Beach, compels Mar-a-Lago to turn over all documents, records and communications relating to Yang, as well as 11 other people, one charity and seven companies affiliated with her, according to a person familiar with the investigation who asked for anonymity to discuss an ongoing probe. The people named in that subpoena include Yang’s family members, former employees at her massage parlors and several donors to Trump Victory. Prosecutors were trying to serve the subpoena to Mar-a-Lago through a South Florida law firm, the source said.

The second subpoena, for Trump Victory, was served to attorneys at a Washington, D.C., law firm. It seeks campaign-finance records relating to Yang and her associates.

Mar-a-Lago is owned by the Trump Organization, the president’s family company. Trump Victory is a joint fundraising committee for the president and the Republican National Committee. It supports his re-election efforts.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. A Trump Victory official said: “Trump Victory makes every effort possible to ensure that all contributions are made in accordance with the law. While we can’t comment on any possible ongoing investigations, of course our committee would comply with any request from law enforcement to ensure all contributions are made legally.”

The Justice Department declined to comment.

The investigation is being handled by the FBI and the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington. While special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election has ended, the new probe examining Chinese money may add to growing concerns over foreign influence heading into the 2020 election. (In a separate matter, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami have been investigating possible Chinese espionage operations in South Florida targeting Mar-a-Lago.)

May 28

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: House -- Exhausted from Threatening Oversight -- Needs Another Recess, Bill Yeomans, May 28, 2019. The House greeted the release of the redacted bill yeomans afj cropped CustomMueller report by taking a 10-day recess. After returning for several weeks of name-calling between the Speaker and the President, the issuance of a bunch of subpoenas, threats of contempt, and two court victories, the House ran out of gas and headed off for another 10-day recess.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi jockeyed to hold the growing impeachment caucus at bay, the House failed to hold a single substantive hearing on the Mueller Report or even to secure a date to hear from Mueller. Don McGahn bowed to Trump’s demand that he blow off the House Judiciary Committee’s (HJC) subpoena -- so far, without consequence. While Pelosi oversaw implementation of her plan to delay impeachment through slow-moving, diffuse oversight, the urgency of moving to impeachment only increased.

alliance for justice logoThe Democratic mantra during the 2018 election campaign was to wait for the Mueller report. When the report was delivered, the House announced its wait for the unredacted report and then for Mueller’s testimony. Waiting for Mueller has become a paralyzing syndrome. As Trump and Barr have lied repeatedly about the contents of the report, members of Congress have waited. After AG Barr stiffed the HJC, the committee promptly reported a contempt citation to the House floor. No vote. Mueller wants to testify in private, perhaps offering a public opening statement. No date.

The HJC’s most important responsibility now is to educate the public on the contents of the report. It cannot wait for Mueller. It can bring in experts to testify about parts of the report, explaining the facts and the law. Nearly 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now signed a letter saying Trump would be in cuffs if he were not president. I’ll bet at least 800 of them would be glad to testify or assist in other ways. Surely, there are distinguished national security experts who would be delighted to help the public understand Volume I of the report. The committee cannot simply wait for reluctant witnesses to come around and for the exhaustion of court processes.

Perhaps the most harmful effect of waiting is to convey the message that the facts we now have are somehow insufficient. We have a report and supplemental public record that establish that the President of the United States has committed multiple felonies and has engaged in deeply unpatriotic conduct. The task now is less to gather facts than to help the public understand the facts before them. Facts developed by other committees will prove welcome supplements.

The House leadership seems committed to a fear-driven political calculation that impeachment will backfire. History suggests otherwise. Nixon and Clinton were both far more popular than Trump and their conduct was not nearly as egregious as Trump’s. Even so, the impeaching party won the next presidential election. Trump’s denial of congressional authority and his blatant effort to run out the clock threaten to make the House look bullied and feckless if it doesn’t act.

The House has produced significant legislation. It’s now time to show that it can legislate and hold Trump accountable at the same time.

ap logoAssociated Press via Public Broadcast System / WETA, Fact Check: Trump takes credit for Obama’s gains for vets, Hope Yen and Calvin Woodward, May 27, 2019. Boastful on the occasion of Memorial Day, President Donald Trump and his Veterans Affairs secretary are claiming full credit for health care improvements that were underway before they took office.

Trump said he passed a private-sector health care program, Veterans Choice, after failed attempts by past presidents for the last “45 years.” That’s not true. The Choice program, which allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense, was first passed in 2014 under President Barack Obama.

Trump’s VA secretary, Robert Wilkie, also is distorting the facts. Faulting previous “bad leadership” at VA, Wilkie suggested it was his own efforts that improved waiting times at VA medical centers and brought new offerings of same-day mental health service. The problem: The study cited by Wilkie on wait times covers the period from 2014 to 2017, before Wilkie took the helm as VA secretary. Same-day mental health services at VA were started during the Obama administration under Wilkie’s predecessor, David Shulkin.

The half-truths and exaggerations came in a week when selective accounting was a norm in Trump’s rhetoric, extending into his trip to Japan , where he inflated the drop in the U.S. unemployment rate for women.

A look at the claims, about the Russia investigation, the border, drug prices and more:

TRUMP: “We passed VA Choice and VA Accountability to give our veterans the care that they deserve and they have been trying to pass these things for 45 years.” — Montoursville, Pennsylvania, rally on May 20.

THE FACTS: Wrong. Trump is not the first president in 45 years to get Congress to pass Veterans Choice; Obama did it in the wake of a scandal at VA’s medical center in Phoenix, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. The program currently allows veterans to see doctors outside the VA system if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) to a VA facility.

Trump's Memorial Day

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's very un-American Memorial Day, Wayne Madsen (author and former Navy intelligence officer), May 27, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). Donald Trump chose to spend the Memorial Day weekend hobnobbing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a man who consistently honors his nation's dead war criminals from World War II.

Mueller Report

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Robert Mueller isn’t done with his Plan B, Bill Palmer, May 27, 2019. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s original plan – to release his entire report on Donald Trump, and then let Congress and the public decide what to do with him – was derailed when Attorney General William Barr lied to the public about the nature of the report and then released a suspiciously redacted version. For weeks, it was far from clear if Mueller had a Plan B, or what it might look like. Then earlier this month it became rather clear to us, though few others seemed to see it. Now it’s coming to fruition.

bill palmer report logo headerFor some time now it’s been obvious that Robert Mueller would eventually have to testify before Congress – with at least part of his testimony in public – in order to explain what all he really found. But that testimony keeps not happening, and it’s led large chunks of the public to ask what’s going on. House Democrats have seemed reticent to go into much detail about it. But they could subpoena Mueller to testify if they wanted to, and he’s the type who would dutifully honor a subpoena. So their decision not to subpoena him means that whatever his reason is for the delay, House Democrats are on board with it.

Mueller seemed to spell out that reason in big block letters earlier this month when he and what’s left of his Special Counsel team decided – out of nowhere, up against no deadline, and for no stated reason – to make a court filing in the Michael Flynn case which revealed that Flynn testified against Donald Trump, and even turned over a voicemail that incriminates Trump and his personal attorney. We took this as a sign that Mueller was using his last bits of power as Special Counsel to force certain redacted aspects of his report into public view, so he could then testify about them, and Barr wouldn’t be able to stop him. Obviously his testimony would need to wait until his Plan B was complete.

The thing is, just about no one in the mainstream media seemed to catch on to Palmer Report’s interpretation that Robert Mueller is trying to forcibly unredact the most important of his redacted crimes before he testifies about them. But we think the media will get there before much longer. CNN is now reporting that the judge in the Flynn case michael flynn stephen miller jared kushner reince priebushas ordered Barr’s DOJ to take all the redacted portions of the Mueller report that pertain to Flynn, and make them public by this Friday.

Think this one through. Robert Mueller decided out of nowhere to tell a judge – who has already expressed frustration at the secrecy of the Flynn plea deal process – that Flynn (shown at center surrounded by other Trump aides) has produced testimony and evidence against Donald Trump. The judge has, predictably, responded by moving to force every inch of the Trump-Flynn investigation into the public eye. No wonder Mueller hasn’t testified yet. He’s still setting the stage for it. If the DOJ does release the Flynn material on Friday, we’ll see if Mueller then resigns and testifies – or if his Plan B also involves forcibly unredacting other key evidence.

May 24

Trump Empowers Barr for "Spying" Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Gives Attorney General Sweeping Power in Review of 2016 Campaign Inquiry, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, May 24, 2019 (print ed.). The directive gives Mr. Barr immense leverage over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation. President Trump took extraordinary steps on Thursday to give Attorney General William P. Barr, right, sweeping new authorities to conduct a review into how the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia were investigated, significantly escalating the administration’s efforts to place those who investigated the campaign under scrutiny.

william barr new oIn a directive, Mr. Trump ordered the C.I.A. and the country’s 15 other intelligence agencies to cooperate with the review and granted Mr. Barr the authority to unilaterally declassify their documents. The move — which occurred just hours after the president again declared that those who led the investigation committed treason — gave Mr. Barr immense leverage over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation.

cia logoThe order is a change for Mr. Trump, who last year dropped a plan to release documents related to the Russia investigation amid concerns from Justice Department officials who said making them public could damage national security. At the time, the president was being encouraged by a group of Republican Congress members to declassify the information.

Mr. Barr, who has used the word “spying” to describe how the Trump campaign was investigated, has been deeply involved in the department’s review of how intelligence was collected on the campaign. Mr. Barr has told Congress that he personally authorized the review. While he has asked John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, to spearhead it, a Justice Department official said that Mr. Barr has personally met with the heads of the intelligence agencies to discuss the review and that the project was a top priority after the release last month of the special counsel’s report.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: William Barr knows all about "spying" because he is likely a spy, Wayne Madsen, May 23, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission).Opus Dei’s faithful in the White House and State Department pale in comparison to its number one agent-of-influence, Attorney General William Barr. Barr’s father was Jewish. But he was raised Catholic.

Barr also happens to serve as a member of Opus Dei’s Catholic Information Center alongside Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society – which advanced the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court – and Trump’s White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump tries to salvage his dying presidency with deranged new DOJ revenge plot, Bill Palmer, May 23, 2019. Today, Trump had one of his worst days yet. So now he’s trying to salvage his dying presidency with one of his most psychotic moves yet.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump tweeted this:

"Today, at the request and recommendation of the Attorney General of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election....Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.”

Based on his various statements on the matter to date, it appears Donald Trump is somewhere between strategically pushing this phony narrative because he wants to distract from his own very real criminal scandals, and honestly believing this nonsense because he’s becoming more mentally incompetent by the day. It’s also unclear if Barr is actually carrying out the investigation described above, which would be a felony on his part, and would ensure that Barr would go to prison for the rest of his life once Trump is gone.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 20 questions Mueller will actually be able to answer, Robert S. Litt and Benjamin Wittes, May 24, 2019. Robert Litt is a former general counsel for the director of national intelligence. Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Republicans and Democrats alike have called for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to testify before Congress. Given the determined resistance of the Trump administration to any congressional oversight, it is unclear when Mueller will testify.

Whenever it happens, there may be legitimate limits on Mueller’s testimony. For example, the law prevents him from disclosing matters occurring before the grand jury. And given Mueller’s well-deserved reputation for reticence and strict adherence to the law, he is unlikely to be willing to provide a political spin on his report. But Mueller’s reputation for probity — previously unquestioned by Republicans and Democrats alike — is all the more reason he should testify, and why that testimony should be public rather than behind closed doors.

Here are 20 questions we think Mueller would be able to answer when he does testify, and on which his answers would help the public understand the important issues his investigation and report raised:

1. The president has said that your report found “No collusion, no obstruction.” Did you make a determination that there was in fact no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to influence the election?

Inside DC

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Pardoning convicted troops would tell the world America no longer has a disciplined military, Barry McCaffrey, May 24, 2019. Barry McCaffrey spent 32 years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer. A pardon by President Trump for military personnel who have been convicted of battlefield crimes or are pending general court-martial would be enormously damaging to the values of the U.S. armed forces. He should not take this action.

washington post logoWashington Post, President may bypass Congress on Saudi arms deal, drawing warnings from both parties, Karoun Demirjian and Missy Ryan, May 24, 2019 (print ed.).  President Trump has signaled that he may invoke emergency authority to complete weapons sales that lawmakers have temporarily blocked.

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are urging President Trump not to go over Congress’s head to complete controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries amid concerns that he may soon use his emergency powers to sidestep lawmakers’ power to check such deals.

Lawmakers and human rights advocates are anticipating that the administration may exploit a legal window that permits the president to circumvent congressional roadblocks, or “holds,” on proposed arms sales. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has placed such a hold on a planned sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, over concerns that the weapons may be used against civilian targets in war-torn Yemen.

harriet tubman 20 bill graphic

An artist's rendering of abolitionist Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill. (WomenOn20s) (Women on 20s/Women on 20s)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mnuchin’s excuse for delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is insulting, Editorial Board, May 24, 2019 (print ed.). When the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew decided in 2016 to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, he knew it would be up to the next administration to implement the change. But it seemed highly unlikely that anyone would upend a plan to honor this great American hero with a currency redesign that would also include depictions of historic events such as the suffragist march on Washington.

“I don’t think somebody’s going to probably want to do that — to take the image of Harriet Tubman off of our money? To take the image of the suffragists off?” Mr. Lew said incredulously.

No one can blame him for a failure to imagine that any future administration would be so petty and narrow-minded as to go out of its way to thumb its nose at women, minorities and history. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disclosed to Congress on Wednesday that redesign of the $20 bill to include an image of the former slave and leader of the Underground Railroad, slated for next year to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, has been pushed back to 2028. Tubman was selected following a massive grass-roots campaign to include a woman on U.S. paper currency.

The explanation Mr. Mnuchin offered for the delay — the need for more time for “counterfeiting issues” — would be laughable if it were not so insulting. Are we really expected to believe that the administration, one that boasts about its can-do capabilities, needs eight more years to implement a new design? If indeed counterfeiting matters are the primary reason for currency design, shouldn’t you start with the $20 bill, since it is one of the most widely circulated?

Media News / Fake News

washington post logoWashington Post, Faked Pelosi videos, slowed to make her appear drunk, spread across social media, Drew Harwell, May 24, 2019 (print ed.). Distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), altered to make her sound as if she’s drunkenly slurring her words, are spreading rapidly across social media, highlighting how political disinformation that clouds public understanding can now grow at the speed of the Web.

The video of Pelosi’s onstage speech Wednesday at a Center for American Progress event, in which she said President Trump’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations was tantamount to a “coverup," was subtly edited to make her voice sound garbled and warped. It was then circulated widely across Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

One version, posted by the conservative Facebook page Politics WatchDog, had been viewed more than 2 million times by Thursday night, been shared more than 45,000 times, and garnered 23,000 comments with users calling her “drunk” and “a babbling mess.”

May 23

Manafort / Trump Crony Banker Indicted

stephen calk paul manafort file

Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul J. Manafort, above left and now imprisoned, with former bank CEO Stephen Calk, now indicted on charges of giving $16 million in fraudulent loans to Manafort in return for an expectation of a major appointment in the Trump Administration (File photos).

washington post logoWashington Post, Chicago bank CEO accused of bribing Manafort for administration job, Renae Merle, May 23, 2019. Stephen Calk, a former economic adviser to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was indicted Thursday for allegedly approving $16 million in loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for his help seeking a top post in the administration.

Calk, the founder of mortgage lender Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, illegally used the bank’s resources to curry favor with Manafort, ignoring internal standards and lying to regulators, according to the indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York.

Calk gave Manafort a list ranking the administrative jobs he wanted starting with Treasury Secretary, the indictment alleges. The list also included 19 ambassadorships, including the United Kingdom, according to the indictment.

He ultimately was interviewed as a candidate for undersecretary of the Army but didn’t get the job, prosecutors said.

“Stephen M. Calk abused the power entrusted to him as the top official of a federally insured bank by approving millions of dollars in high-risk loans in an effort to secure a personal benefit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.

Manafort was not named in the indictment, but the description of the borrower in the court filing matches that of the former Trump campaign chairman.

The indictment is a reminder of the financial crush that was facing Manafort during the same months when he was working as Trump’s campaign chairman, a job he won in part by arguing to Trump that he was independently wealthy and thus able to work for free.

At Manafort’s trial last year, prosecutors presented evidence that he was in fact swimming in debt while working for the campaign and struggling to juggle mortgages on several pricey properties.

Calk did not testify at Manafort’s 2018 trial for bank and tax fraud but other officers from his bank took the stand to describe the unusual process by which the bank approved a loan for Manafort.

Manafort was convicted at trial and later pleaded guilty to additional charges, including acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working for a Ukrainian politician before joining Trump’s campaign. He is now serving a 7 ½ year prison sentence. He began cooperating with authorities after his guilty plea.

Trump v. Pelosi Day 2

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi slam dunks Donald Trump after he has another meltdown about being a “stable genius,” Bill Palmer, May 23, 2019. When Donald Trump’s nancy pelosi djt 2 olderbehavior became so erratic last year that the public began loudly questioning his mental health and cognitive abilities, he preposterously declared that he’s a “very stable genius.” One year and one thousand punchlines later, Trump is now behaving more mentally incompetent than ever, prompting Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to declare this morning that Trump is “unwell” and that he should consider taking a “leave of absence.”

Donald Trump responded just now by speaking to a group of reporters and declaring that he’s an “extremely stable genius.” No, this isn’t some outdated headline. He really did say it again today. Except this time he’s gone from being “very stable” to being “extremely stable” – as if that extra bit of hyperbole is going to convince the public that he’s mentally competent after all. Trump also claimed that Nancy Pelosi is a “mess,” which isn’t exactly the most creative of insults.

bill palmer report logo headerNancy Pelosi fired back on Twitter, stating that “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues.” It’s clear that Pelosi is fine with getting into an escalating war of words with Donald Trump. That kind of thing usually drives down both people’s approval ratings. But Pelosi ostensibly doesn’t care about her own approval rating, and she knows that the majority of Americans are going to side with her anyway.

The point of goading Donald Trump like this, of course, is to get him to speak and behave in such a dangerously insane manner that even the average nonpolitical person sitting at home ends up concluding that he’s got to go. Nancy Pelosi appears to

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Rex Tillerson meltdown gives away something important about Trump’s downfall, Bill Palmer, May 23, 2019. Even as Donald Trump was illegally coercing former White House Counsel Don McGahn into failing to show up and testify this week, Trump’s former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (below left) showed up and testified to rex tillerson state deptthe House in secret. Neither Trump nor the public knew it was happening until it was finished. Now Trump is, predictably, throwing a tantrum about Tillerson – but he’s given away something important in the process.

It’s not difficult to figure out how Donald Trump was able to coerce Don McGahn into essentially becoming a fugitive from the law. Trump not too subtly threatened to steer millions of dollars in Republican Party business away from McGahn’s law firm. Everyone has a vulnerability to be exploited, right? Trump deutsche bank logofound McGahn’s. But apparently not everyone can be so easily manipulated. Rex Tillerson just testified against Trump, and when it came to retaliation, the worst that Trump could come up with was a mean tweet.

The point is, Trump clearly doesn’t have leverage over all of his former people. We’re seeing a similar pattern play out in Donald Trump’s legal battles over the evidence against bill palmer report logo headerhim. Even as he’s incrementally losing his court battles to prevent Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and Mazars from turning over his financial records to the House, yesterday NBC revealed that Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already finished turning over Trump’s financial records. He couldn’t try to stop it, because he didn’t know about it.

capital one bank logoAs Palmer Report spelled out weeks ago, Donald Trump is now playing defense on all sides when it comes to his battles against House Democrats. They don’t have to break through Trump’s defenses on all of those fronts, just some of them. That’s already happening. And when it comes to the battles that Trump is losing, like the Tillerson testimony, it turns out all he can do is whine.

Trump's 'Wall' Back In the News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries to steer border wall deal to GOP donor’s firm, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey​, May 23, 2019. President Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News, according to four administration officials.

In phone calls, White House meetings and conversations aboard Air Force One during the past several months, Trump has aggressively pushed Dickinson, N.D.-based Fisher Industries to Department of Homeland Security leaders and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commanding general of the Army Corps, according to the administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal discussions. The push for a specific company has alarmed military commanders and DHS officials.

President Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a wall contract to a construction firm led by a Republican donor and frequent TV pundit, administration officials said.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge questions House lawsuit to stop border wall construction, Spencer S. Hsu, May 23, 2019. The Democratic-led House filed suit in Washington on April 5 to prevent work after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the administration of “stealing from appropriated funds” by seeking to transfer $6.7 billion more for the effort than the $1.375 billion Congress approved, a shift of money from other projects lawmakers authorized.

But over nearly three hours of arguments, U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the District said there were few cases to guide how courts should rule on a major test of trevor mcFadden Customthe constitutional separation of powers, and pressed House general counsel Douglas Letter to point to historical precedent allowing one chamber of Congress to sue the president to settle political differences.

Whether the House has legal standing to sue is “problematic” and a “significant issue in this case,” said McFadden, citing the bedrock legal requirement that a party prove it is being harmed and show that only a court can address it. “Courts are not there to adjudicate just interesting constitutional or political questions between the branches,” he added later. The Trump-appointed judge, age 40 and reportedly a member of the radical right Federalist Society beginning in 2003, is shown above right.

Trump Snit Fit At White House

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A Trump Twitter-style diatribe — live from the Rose Garden, Anne Gearan, May 23, 2019 (print ed.). The president shut down infrastructure talks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him earlier of managing a “coverup” in probes of his conduct and administration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Don’t get it twisted. Trump is the one with the picket sign, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 23, 2019 (print ed.). It’s often said that when our founders wrote the Constitution, they had a leader like Donald Trump in mind when they included various safeguards for our liberties and against abuses of presidential power.

I think that gets it wrong. The framers could not have imagined a president like Trump. They certainly never expected that a president would go on strike.

But that is what Trump did on Wednesday, throwing a tantrum at what was supposed to be a serious meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer about a big infrastructure plan. Trump then barged out and told waiting reporters that unless the House stopped investigating him — i.e., gave up on its responsibilities to hold him accountable — Americans would just have to keep driving on crumbling roads, crossing shaky bridges and riding on inadequate public transit systems.

For now, a majority of House Democrats seem inclined to support court efforts to uphold the various subpoenas and document requests before moving to impeachment. Giving Trump more time for Rose Garden and Twitter antics could also allow him to make the case for impeachment far better than Democrats ever could on their own.

And in blowing up the talks on infrastructure, Trump has already assuaged one of the worries swing-district Democrats — that they’d be blamed if Washington doesn’t act on big issues. Now, everyone will know that it’s Trump who has little interest in governing or compromising. He’s the one with the picket sign, grinding government to a halt to keep his secrets.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump seems to be transparently mad, Dana Milbank, May 23, 2019 (print ed.). This is not the work of an orderly mind. President Trump stormed into the Cabinet Room 15 minutes late Wednesday morning and immediately proceeded to blow up a long-planned meeting with Democratic leaders about an infrastructure bill.

He raged against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the terrible, horrible things she has said about him, and he vowed not to work on any legislation until Democrats stop investigating his administration. He stomped out of the room before Democrats had a chance to reply, then marched into the Rose Garden for an unscheduled news conference — or, more accurately, a 12-minute parade of paranoia.

Positively everybody was out to get him. They were out to get him in the third person: “They hated President Trump. They hated him with a passion,” he said. They were out to get him in the first-person plural: “These people were out to get us, the Republican Party and President Trump. They were out to get us.” What’s more, they have been after him “pretty much from the time we came down the escalator in Trump Tower.”

And now they probably will impeach him because they “do whatever they have to do.”

May 22

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s latest idiotic stunt blows up hilariously in his face, Bill Palmer, May 22, 2019. Based on the mere fact that Donald Trump had pre-made signs set up in the Rose Garden that were supposed to amplify his anti-investigation message, it was clear that Trump was always planning to storm out of this morning’s infrastructure meeting, and then make his case to reporters. But because Nancy Pelosi is far more savvy than Trump will ever be, it went completely off the rails for him.

bill palmer report logo headerPelosi must have sensed that Trump didn’t legitimately have any sudden interest in a bipartisan infrastructure deal in the midst of heightening impeachment talk, and so she decided to set things on fire before he could. Just before the meeting, she accused Trump of leading a “coverup” of his criminal scandals. This clearly set Trump off, and by the time he had stormed out and taken the podium (as planned), he was far too rattled to help his own case.

Donald Trump ended up sounding like a mentally incompetent madman – jarringly over the top even by his usual standards – and unwittingly made the case to the American people that he’s not stable enough to remain in office. He also flatly declared that there will be no legislation and governing if the Democrats keep exposing his scandals, thus taking the blame for any upcoming gridlock in the eyes of swing voters. In fact he was so flustered, he screwed up and confessed that he did in fact speak with Donald Trump Jr on the phone on the day of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Angered by Investigations, Blows Up Meeting With Democrats, Peter Baker, Katie Rogers and Emily Cochrane, May 22, 2019. President Trump abruptly blew up a scheduled meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday, lashing out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing him of a cover-up and declaring that he could not work with them until they stopped investigating him.

He then marched out into the Rose Garden, where reporters had been gathered, and delivered a statement bristling with anger as he demanded that Democrats “get these phony investigations over with.” He said they could not legislate and investigate at the same time. “We’re going to go down one track at a time,” he said.

The confrontation came on a day when pressure over a possible impeachment effort raised temperatures on both sides of the aisle. Ms. Pelosi arrived at the White House for a session with the president set to talk about infrastructure shortly after meeting with restive House Democrats on Capitol Hill to talk about impeachment. She emerged from that meeting with Democrats accusing Mr. Trump of a “cover-up.”

When she and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, arrived at the White House, Mr. Trump was loaded for bear. He walked into the Cabinet Room and did not shake anyone’s hand or sit in his seat, according to a Democrat informed about the meeting. He said that he wanted to advance legislation on infrastructure, trade and other matters, but that Ms. Pelosi had said something “terrible” by accusing him of a cover-up, according to the Democrat.

Trump Campaign Lawbreaking?

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, In China, a flourishing industry claims to sell access to President Trump, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Anu Narayanswamy and Lyric Li, May 22, 2019. The arrangements, if real, would be illegal under U.S. law because foreigners are not allowed to donate to American candidates or political committees.

Trump Unprepared For Putin?

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin out-prepared Trump in key meeting, Rex Tillerson told House panel, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey, May 22, 2019. Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, shown below in a file photo, told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared President Trump during a key meeting in Germany, putting the U.S. leader at a disadvantage during their first series of tête-à-têtes.

rex tillerson state deptThe U.S. side anticipated a shorter meeting for exchanging courtesies, but it ballooned into a globe-spanning two-hour-plus session involving deliberations on a variety of geopolitical issues, said committee aides, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Tillerson’s seven-hour closed meeting with the committee.

“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” a committee aide said. “There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.”

Inside DC

The Hill via Information Clearinghouse, House panel approves language revoking 2001 war authority as U.S. increases Iran tensions, Ellen Mitchell, May 22, 2019. The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would end the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), as lawmakers grow increasingly concerned over the possibility of war with Iran.

The committee voted along party lines, 30-22, for Rep. Barbara Lee's (D-Calif.) amendment to sunset the AUMF, which has been used as legal justification for military operations against terrorist groups.

Passed days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it has been cited as a justification for conflict 41 times in 18 countries.

“In the last 18 years, it really has become increasingly clear that the AUMF has essentially provided the president, and that’s any president, the authority to wage war anywhere in the world at any time,” said Lee, who was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF when it was passed. “It has already been floated as a possibility for using this AUMF as the legal basis to go to war with Iran, a war, again, that Congress has not debated or authorized,” she added.

The amendment would sunset the broad war authorization eight months after the bill becomes law. She argued that it gives Congress and the Trump administration “plenty of time to vote and debate on a new AUMF.”

The language was offered as tensions between Washington and Tehran have reached a new high in recent weeks, with the accelerated deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group to the region along with a B-52 bomber task force earlier this month.

More Trump Finance Revelations

New York Post, NY judge denies Trump bid to block House Deutsche Bank subpoenas, Andrew Denney, May 22, 2019.  A Manhattan federal judge has denied a bid by President Donald Trump and his companies to block congressional subpoenas on two banks to obtain years worth of financial records.

deutsche bank logoThe ruling Wednesday by District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan federal court to deny injunctions on Deutsche Bank and Capital One, which have done business with Trump and his businesses, and which received subpoenas from two House of Representatives committees, is the latest setback for efforts by Trump lawyers to prevent exposure of his financial records.

The ruling comes just days after a federal judge in Washington, DC, found that Trump can’t stop Mazars, Trump’s accounting firm, from complying with another congressional subpoena for Trump’s financial records. His lawyers are appealing that ruling.

mazars logo croppedAttorneys for Trump and his companies have argued that the congressional committees are overstepping their boundaries by issuing subpoenas for private financial records pertaining to Trump and his family members.

But an attorney for the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees, which issued the subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, argued before Ramos that the committees want the records to determine if Russian oligarchs are using the American banking system to launder money – and if foreign money is being used to curry favor with top-level government officials.

  • Reuters, New York state legislature votes to make Trump tax returns available, May 22, 2019.  New York state’s legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would make it easier for U.S. congressional committees investigating President Donald Trump to get access to his state tax returns.
  • New York Times, Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump, Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish, May 22, 2019 (updated).

Mueller Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. to turn over more Mueller probe materials to House panel, Karoun Demirjian​, May 22, 2019. The agreement means the House Intelligence william barr new oCommittee will not vote today to enforce a subpoena against Attorney General William P. Barr, right.

The House Intelligence Committee will not enforce a subpoena against Attorney General William P. Barr as planned Wednesday, after the Justice Department agreed at the 11th hour to produce the redacted material and underlying information from the special counsel’s report that the panel sought, albeit more slowly than it wanted.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, announced the deal in a statement Wednesday morning. He warned that the subpoena “will remain in effect and will be enforced should the Department fail to comply with the full document request.”

Schiff added that he expects the “initial production” of providing the committee with 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence material from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of election interference by Russia would “be completed by the end of next week.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: William Barr just caved, Isabel Stamm, May 22, 2019. As the Washington Post reported today, the Justice Department has struck a deal with Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee to produce the redacted material and underlying information from Special Counsel Mueller’s report that the panel had subpoenaed, just before the vote on an “enforcement action” that had been scheduled for Wednesday.

bill palmer report logo headerIn their standoff, both sides have stated their terms: House Intel Committee Chairman Schiff declared that the committee’s subpoena “will remain in effect and will be enforced, should the Department fail to comply with the full document request.” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd in turn told Schiff in a letter that the DOJ will only accommodate the committee’s document requests as long as the committee promises “that it will not pursue any vote on an ‘enforcement action,’ either on May 22, or while such good-faith accommodation measures continue.”

There is still some haggling going on over the time frame for handing over the requested materials. However, Adam Schiff announced in a statement today that he expects an initial production of materials by the end of next week, thus providing a clear deadline for compliance with the deal which will be off the moment the Department of Justice fails to hand over any documents at all.

What is going to be of particular value for the House investigation is not necessarily what is written in those passages of the Mueller report that have remained redacted so far. But the evidentiary material collected by the Special Counsel’s team in the course of the probe is a treasure trove of material that will now become available to lawmakers and will enable them to do their job properly, which is to work not as a court of law but as a court of ethics as they investigate and ultimately decide whether or not the presidency has been compromised by a foreign power. This is how Robert Mueller intended the results of his painstaking investigation to be used when he provided Congress with a roadmap for the impeachment of Donald Trump.

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors accused the lawyer Michael Avenatti of stealing nearly $300,000 from Stormy Daniels, his former client, Rebecca R. Ruiz, May 22, 2019. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged the celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti with misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, his former client.

stormy daniels 2010 83 wThe indictment, announced by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, adds to the legal troubles of Mr. Avenatti, who stands accused of more than michael avenatti twitterthree dozen crimes. He denied all of the charges on Wednesday and said he would continue to fight them.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Avenatti, right, took more than $295,000 from Ms. Daniels (shown at left in a 2010 file photo).

After helping her secure a book contract, they said, he sent “a fraudulent and unauthorized letter” bearing Ms. Daniels’s signature to her literary agent, instructing the agent to wire a portion of the book advance to a client trust account that Mr. Avenatti controlled.

Global News: European Elections

May 20

Trump Scandals

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge denies Trump bid to quash House subpoena for years of financial records, Spencer S. Hsu, May 20, 2019. The ruling handed an initial defeat to President Trump’s vow to defy subpoenas by House Democrats and came in one of the first courtroom challenges to a series of lawmakers’ investigative demands.

A federal judge on Monday denied President Trump’s bid to quash a House subpoena for years of his financial records from his accounting firm and stayed his order seven days to allow the president’s lawyers time to appeal.

The ruling handed an initial defeat to Trump’s vow to defy subpoenas by House Democrats and came in one of the first courtroom challenges to a series of lawmakers’ investigative demands for his bank records, accounting statements and tax returns.

amit mehta CustomU.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta, right, of Washington, D.C., refused to block the records request to Mazars USA from the House Oversight and Reform Committee while litigation continues. Attorneys for Trump and associated businesses filed suit April 22, arguing Congress is not entitled to investigate his past personal financial dealings for potential corruption.

mazars logo croppedIn an additional blow to Trump’s lawyers, Mehta denied their request to stay his order beyond the seven days both sides previously agreed to for an appeal, finding the public’s interest in “maximizing the effectiveness of the investigatory powers of Congress” was greater than any harm to Trump or his businesses.

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry,” Mehta wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cohen says Trump attorney told him to make false claim on Moscow project, Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian, May 20, 2019. President Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow previously denied a claim that he made changes to Michael Cohen’s 2017 statement to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow, according to people familiar with a House testimony.

michael cohen ap file croppedMichael Cohen, left, President Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, told a House panel during closed-door hearings earlier this year that he had been instructed by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, below right, to falsely claim in a 2017 statement to Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, according to people familiar with his testimony.

Jay SekulowIn fact, Cohen later admitted, discussions on the Moscow tower continued into June of the presidential election year, after it was clear Trump would be the GOP nominee. Cohen is serving three years in prison for lying to Congress, financial crimes and campaign finance violations.

House Democrats are now scrutinizing whether Sekulow or other Trump attorneys played a role in shaping Cohen’s 2017 testimony to Congress. Cohen has said he made the false statement to help hide the fact that Trump had potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in a possible Russian project while he was running for president.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House blocks former counsel McGahn from testifying to Congress, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, May 20, 2019. The White House on Monday blocked former counsel Donald McGahn from testifying to Congress, the latest act of defiance in the ongoing war between House Democrats and President Trump.

McGahn, who Democrats hoped would become a star witness in their investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, was subpoenaed to testify Tuesday morning. The former White House counsel delivered critical testimony in several instances of potential obstruction by Trump detailed in special counsel Robert. S. Mueller III’s report.

dan mcgahn djtAs a private citizen no longer in the government, McGahn (shown at right in separate file photo from Trump) is not necessarily bound by the White House directive, or the OLC memo, to refuse to comply with the subpoena. There was no immediate word from McGahn’s lawyer on whether he would defy the White House.

Testifying, however, could jeopardize business and professional standing for McGahn, who works for Jones Day, a Republican law firm with close ties to the Trump campaign and electoral politics. Jones Day will still be involved in the reelection campaign but will have a reduced role from 2016, campaign officials say, when they were the main firm.

The move to bar McGahn from answering lawmakers’ questions angered House Democrats already eager to hit back at what they view as White House stonewalling. The defiance raises the possibility that the House will hold McGahn in contempt of Congress, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has threatened.

Roll Call, Where all 24 House Judiciary Democrats stand on impeachment, Lindsey McPherson, May 20, 2019. Majority says that may eventually need to launch an impeachment inquiry to get information. More than half of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee say their panel may eventually need to open an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump if his administration’s efforts to stonewall congressional investigations continue.

democratic donkey logoCQ Roll Call talked to all but one of the 24 Democrats on the panel over the past two weeks about their views on impeachment in light of Trump, his administration and his allies deciding not to cooperate with their investigation into potential obstruction of justice, corruption and abuses of power. The Democrat not reached directly, California’s Eric Swalwell, a presidential candidate, weighed in on Twitter.

The interviews reveal that a majority of Democrats on the panel with sole jurisdiction over impeachment not only want to keep that tool available but also see an unfolding scenario in which they may need to use it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Sorry, Donald Trump, you’re busted, Bill Palmer, May 20, 2019. Right after the New York Times reported on Sunday afternoon that Deutsche Bank flagged deutsche bank logoDonald Trump for foreign money laundering in 2016 and 2017 [, Investigation: Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner Accounts, by David Enrich], Trump suddenly decided that he needed to create a distraction by threatening Iran. The thing is, we’ve seen him do this before – to a different country – and he’s even recycling his own verbiage.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the juvenile idiocy that Donald Trump tweeted about Iran: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” Sound familiar? Back in September 23rd, 2017, when Trump needed a distraction, he posted this tweet: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

djt kim jong un djt wave singapore 6 12 18 CustomWe all know how that one ended up playing out. Trump had been bluffing all along when it came to his threats against North Korea. Not only did it work as a temporary distraction from his scandals, it set things up so Trump could later swoop in and “save the day” by cutting the world’s worst deal with North Korea [as illustrated by the photo of the leaders last June in friendly discussions]. So much for Kim Jong Un not being “around much longer.” It sort of puts a damper on Trump’s threat to bring about “the official end of Iran.”

We have no way of knowing what Donald Trump will end up doing with regard to Iran. But thus far every bit of it has come across as a convenient distraction to his worsening criminal scandals, and an attempt at setting the stage so he can eventually take credit for “fixing” the Iran mess he’s creating. We’ll see – but Trump has played this game on us before.

May 19

Trump Scandals

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes completely berserk after Deutsche Bank accuses him of being a Russian money launderer, Bill Palmer, May 19, 2019. The New York deutsche bank logoTimes reported this afternoon that watchdogs at Deutsche Bank flagged several of Donald Trump’s financial transactions for money laundering in 2016 and 2017, and that certain higher-ups at the bank then moved to quash it instead of reporting it to regulators. Some of these transactions were with Russia. This means there’s some kind of smoking gun, and considering how close House Democrats are to winning their court battles to get Trump’s financial records from places like Deutsche Bank, it means it’s time for Trump to panic. So naturally, he’s panicking.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump had been spending the afternoon on autopilot, tweeting his usual rhetoric about how great of a job he’s done, and how all the news about his scandals is fake. But after the Deutsche Bank bombshell landed, Trump decided to tweet this: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” That’s right, he’s suddenly threatening to “end” a country – genocide, we think – because he’s desperate to change the narrative.

We’ll see how the media responds. The story of Russia using Deutsche Bank to launder money through Donald Trump’s businesses in New York city has been surfacing in pieces for the past two years, but most (not all) of the American mainstream media has paid little attention to it. Today’s bombshell is very different in that the bank itself is making the accusation, the financial records to substantiate it will soon be public, and there’s a whistleblower who can be brought in to testify.

U.S. Impeachment Politics

justin amash

ny times logoNew York Times, Breaking with his party, a G.O.P. lawmaker said President Trump’s conduct reaches the “threshold of impeachment,” Glenn Thrush, May 19, 2019 (print ed.). Representative Justin Amash, an iconoclastic Republican of Michigan -- shown above in a file photo-- who has considered a run against President Trump in 2020, became the first member of his party serving in Congress to publicly suggest that the president’s conduct had reached the “threshold of impeachment.”

Mr. Amash, 39, used Mr. Trump’s favorite medium — Twitter — to join a groundswell of Democrats who have concluded that the president’s behavior, including instances of potential obstruction of justice laid out in the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, meets the constitutional threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors.

“President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct,” Mr. Amash wrote in a series of messages after reading the redacted version of the 448-page report.

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi just got lucky – or did she? Bill Palmer, May 18, 2019 (late evening). Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sure caught a lucky break today when Republican Congressman Justin Amash called for impeachment proceedings to begin against Donald Trump. It makes it a lot easier for Pelosi and the House Democrats to bill palmer report logo headermove forward with impeachment now that they have a sliver of bipartisan cover.

But did Pelosi really get lucky at all? I would argue that this wasn’t luck, and Nancy Pelosi simply knows what she’s doing.

May 17

Mueller Probe

djt sergey lavrov sergey kislyak wh may 10 2017 tass

President Trump relaxes with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the White House on May 10, 2017. U.S. news media were barred from the confidential meeting, whose topics have remained secret. Photos are available only from the Russian outlet TASS.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge tells prosecutors to release transcript of Michael Flynn’s call to Russian envoy, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 17, 2019. The michael flynn stephen miller jared kushner reince priebustranscripts of the call and a separate voice mail would reveal conversations at the center of two major avenues of the Mueller probe. A federal judge on Thursday ordered that prosecutors make public a transcript of a phone call that former national security adviser Michael Flynn (shown at center of file photo at right surrounded by Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus) tried hard to hide with a lie: his conversation with a Russian ambassador in late 2016.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (below at left) in Washington ordered the government also to provide a public transcript of a November 2017 voice mail involving Flynn. In that sensitive call, President Trump’s attorney left a message for Flynn’s attorney reminding him of the president’s fondness for Flynn at a time when Flynn was considering cooperating with emmet sullivan 2012federal investigators.

The transcripts, which the judge ordered be posted on a court website by May 31, would reveal conversations at the center of two major avenues of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. So far they have been disclosed to the public only in fragments in court filings and the Mueller report.

Sullivan also ordered that still-redacted portions of the Mueller report that relate to Flynn be given to the court and made public. Sullivan’s orders came very shortly after government prosecutors agreed to release some sealed records in Flynn’s case. The release was in response to a motion filed with the court earlier this year by The Washington Post, which argued that the public deserved to know more about Flynn’s role in key events and cooperation with investigators.

The newly unsealed portions of court records showed Flynn was a deep source of useful information to the special counsel’s team in 2017 and 2018, helping it probe the Trump campaign’s effort to gain stolen emails and the question of whether Trump sought to criminally interfere in the investigation bearing down on him.

The records confirm the questions that Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and former military intelligence officer, helped federal prosecutors answer after his guilty plea. Flynn admitted in 2017 that he tried to conceal the nature of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then began cooperating with Mueller’s team to try to reduce and possibly avoid a prison sentence.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Robert Mueller has been waiting to testify, Bill Palmer, right, May 17, 2019. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee publicly stated that they thought Robert Mueller was going to publicly testify on May 15th – and when they learned it wasn’t going to happen, they didn’t seem too upset about it. Now we know why they were confident Mueller’s testimony would happen soon enough, and why Mueller was waiting.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night Robert Mueller’s prosecutorial team – which apparently still exists on some level – made a court filing in the Michael Flynn case, despite the fact that it wasn’t under obligation to do so, and it wasn’t even close to being up against any deadline. The filing revealed that Flynn witnessed Trump and his underlings commit several crimes. This in turn prompted the judge in the case to order that far more evidence of these crimes be publicly released soon. This, of course, wasn’t coincidence.

democratic donkey logoWith his filing yesterday, Mueller is essentially unredacting the most important pieces of his own report by force, in a way that Attorney General William Barr can’t stop. If Mueller had publicly testified on the 15th as originally planned, would he have been legally able to discuss the Trump crimes that Flynn witnessed? But now that Mueller has found a way to force the Flynn stuff into the public purview, there’s nothing that Trump and Barr can even try to do to stop Mueller from testifying about the Flynn stuff.

We’ll see if Robert Mueller makes other similar moves in the coming days in order to force the key findings of his probe into public view. But it’s now fairly obvious why he’s been waiting to testify. Why fight with Barr’s compromised DOJ about what you can testify about, when you can instead use the courts to change the entire playing field?

ny times logoNew York Times, Frustrated House Democrats Pin Hopes on Mueller Testimony, Glenn Thrush and Nicholas Fandos, May 17, 2019 (print ed.). They had a plan: Stoke public anger about President Trump by dramatizing Robert S. Mueller III’s report on national television in their committees.

democratic donkey logoRobert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)But so far Mr. Trump and his allies have successfully stonewalled their efforts. Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel and a central player in the story, is expected to either flout a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Tuesday or refuse to answer questions.

The White House has claimed executive privilege over the unredacted Mueller report and all the evidence underlying its 448 pages, and administration officials refuse to satisfy virtually any other request — setting up months, possibly years, of legal wrangling.

Mr. Mueller, shown in a file photo from his years as FBI director, who was invited to testify by the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees a month ago, has not agreed to do so.

 

djt li yang cindy

Mother Jones, In Defamation Lawsuit, a Trump Donor Acknowledges Providing Chinese Execs "Access" in US, David Corn and Dan Friedman, May 17, 2019. Last week, Li "Cindy" Yang (shown above), the Florida massage parlor entrepreneur and Trump donor who has been part of the recent controversy involving Donald Trump's private resort, Mar-a-Lago, filed a defamation lawsuit against the parent company of the Miami Herald. The suit focused on a Herald story that had placed Yang in the spotlight by reporting she had posed for a photo with Trump at his West Palm Beach golf club during a Super Bowl party in February and noting that Yang had founded the day spa where Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, had been busted for allegedly soliciting prostitution. (Yang sold that particular spa years earlier.)

The suit claims the newspaper published false statements about Yang and her business that suggested illegal conduct had occurred in her spas. But the suit also contained a surprising passage that acknowledged that Yang had also run a business that provided Chinese executives "access to American business and political culture," and this included entry to events at Mar-a-Lago.

After the Herald story appeared in March, Mother Jones reported that Yang owned a firm that had offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family via visits to Mar-a-Lago. The company, GY US Investments, noted on its website -- which has since been taken down -- that its business consulting services addressed clients looking to make high-level connections in the United States. On a page displaying a photo of Mar-a-Lago, the firm said its "activities for clients" included offering them "the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures." The company boasted it had "arranged taking photos with the President" and suggested it can provide clients with access to a "White House and Capitol Hill Dinner."

Weeks after that story was posted, Yang's attorney, Evan Turk, contacted Mother Jones and threatened a lawsuit, claiming the article defamed Yang. In a letter, Turk wrote that the Mother Jones article inaccurately reported that "Cindy Yang runs an investment business that has offerred [sic] to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. This is nothing but false conjecture based on her company's website that offerred [sic] business assistance in America to potential Chinese clientele; a travel package." (No lawsuit has yet been filed.)

Yet in the lawsuit Turk dropped on the Herald, he stated that Yang was in the access business. A paragraph citing her entrepreneurial talents explained how GY US Investments was founded and operated:

"YANG came to the United States [from China] in search of a better life. She realized the American dream through her entrepreneurial acumen. She created GY US Investments which provided access to the American business and political culture through her understanding of opportunity. GY US Investments was a travel package for Chinese businessmen and philanthropists to travel to America. She realized the premium attached to a picture and story that her clients would cherish, while at the same time, supporting charitable causes. She had an opportunity to share her understanding of the Palm Beach charity scene and events publicly promoted at Mar-a-Lago (amongst others). YANG's business model relied upon her reputation and relationships she had painstakingly established during her time spent in the Palm Beach County area.

This complaint together with the GY US Investments website support the conclusion that Yang, who raised money for Trump, used her connections to bring Chinese executives into proximity of the president and Trump family members at his club and perhaps elsewhere.

Yang's lawsuit maintains that due to Herald article, she...

"is no longer able to maintain her current employment as a direct result of the defamatory statements, is no longer able to attend Mar-a-Lago [events], lost her role as an executive volunteer with the Republican Executive Committee, is undergoing psychiatric treatment to cope with the unconscionable fake allegations, suffers from significant headaches, cannot sleep and was forced to relocate as a direct result of the shame she has had to unnecessarily endure."

In the filing, Turk, a supporter of Roger Stone, the longtime Trump adviser who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and charged with lying to Congress, asserts the Herald story was a hit job that "paints a picture that President Trump is corrupt, and YANG is one of his cronies... The article reads as if it is the playbook for the anti-President Trump manifesto."

In response, the newspaper's managing editor, Rick Hirsch, said, "We stand behind our stories, which accurately reflect publicly available documents and investigations of spas run by Cindy Yang and her family." And a lawyer for the Herald noted that the lawsuit could entail taking depositions from Trump's family members who appeared in photos Yang posted online.

May 16

U.S. Political Groups: Fix Our Democracy!

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Activists to Presidential Candidates: US Democracy Is Broken, Fix It! Klaus Marre, May 16, 2019. Sounding the alarm on an eroding US democracy, a coalition of more than 100 good-governance, civil rights, and other groups is urging all presidential candidates and President Donald Trump to make democracy reform a priority on the campaign trail and when in office.

“Our democratic institutions are under attack, and need renewal and repair,” the groups, which include the NAACP, Common Cause, and Public Citizen, said in the letter sent to candidates on Wednesday.

“Americans are looking for leaders who will take on our broken, entrenched campaign finance system, and who are committed to guaranteeing the absolute right of all eligible Americans access to the ballot,” the groups state. “Your leadership and commitment to action on these issues will show voters across the country that, like them, you believe our democracy works best when it represents everyone, not just those able to unduly influence policies based solely on their power and their wealth.”

Trump, Barr & Presidential Power Grab

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: Let’s Go, HJC! Time for Bold Creativity! Bill Yeomans, right, May 16, 2019. When Attorney General Barr released his wounded version of Robert Mueller’s bill yeomans afj cropped Customreport, House Democrats, under the tight control of Nancy Pelosi, announced that they would begin a process of examining the contents of the report, in addition to conducting oversight in several other areas. They then left town on a ten-day recess. Those ten days drained a disturbing amount of fuel from our democracy. The Democrats’ tepid response allowed Barr and Trump to peddle the lie that Mueller had found no collusion and no obstruction.

alliance for justice logoLess fearful House Democrats could have responded to the report with the unmitigated outrage that its contents warranted. Bold Democrats might have broadcast a narrative that the report showed Trump’s stunning contempt for America. He and his campaign knew about and welcomed the Russian attack on the election. They failed to notify law enforcement and embraced the Russian assistance.

Concerned about launching a polarizing process (because it would be a shame to disrupt the prevailing bipartisan harmony), Democratic leadership at first seemed to take impeachment off the table, only to let it creep back into the discussion as a possible step far down the investigative road. This posture drained Democratic efforts to convey the seriousness of the Mueller report of all momentum. No rush, no big deal.

Democratic hesitation has given Trump the upper hand. The House Judiciary Committee is now in the position of trying to kick-start its presentation of the Mueller report. But the Constitution awards the advantage of inertia to the executive in any investigation. That advantage is particularly acute in service of an executive who feels no obligation even to make a show of inter-branch comity. Trump’s posture of complete defiance toward all requests for testimony and documents should surprise nobody, least of all the House leadership.

djt handwave fileTrump has successfully mired House Democrats in a process battle. This is a battle the House must fight and should win on the law, but it loses unless it focuses on Mueller’s description of the substance of Trump’s conduct. Only then – if it understands the harm he inflicted — will the public care that Trump is obstructing the investigation. The Judiciary Committee is devoting its energy to a fight over Barr’s willingness to appear before the committee and its entitlement to the unredacted Mueller report and supporting evidence. Forget Barr. He does not need another platform from which to mislead.

The unredacted report is important, but the supporting evidence is more so. The fight to get both would be won if the committee moved to impeachment mode. Issues of grand jury secrecy and executive privilege wilt when confronted by the need for information for impeachment. But the committee will slog ahead demanding the material for oversight purposes, making the outcome in court less certain, particularly given Trump’s success in stocking the courts with supporters of expansive executive power, including his two Supreme Court appointees. Meanwhile, the clock will run.

The House must recapture the narrative. Its principal task now is to educate the public on Trump’s misdeeds. While a few among us get excited about battles over executive privilege, the interpretation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), the unavailability of criminal contempt for executive branch officials, the complexities of civil contempt litigation, and the possibility of resurrecting the House’s ability to bypass courts and lock up recalcitrant witnesses pursuant to its inherent contempt authority, the vast majority of the public doesn’t give a damn. But they are more likely to listen to salacious details about the criminal and treacherous doings of their president and his inner circle.

Trump, Barr & Presidential Power Grab

washington post logoWashington Post, White House says demands for records, testimony on Mueller probe to be refused, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Rachael Bade​, May 16, 2019 (print ed.). White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone told the House Judiciary Committee chairman that Congress has no right to a “do-over” of the special counsel’s investigation. The White House’s top lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee chairman Wednesday that Congress has no right to a “do-over” of the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump and refused a broad demand for records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staffers.

jerrold nadler o SmallWhite House counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), right, constitutes a sweeping rejection — not just of Nadler’s request for White House records but of Congress’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice.

pat cipollone file croppedIn his letter, Cipollone, left, repeated a claim the White House and Trump’s business have begun making — that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose to investigate the questions it is pursuing.

But Cipollone stopped short of asserting executive privilege. Instead, he told Nadler he would consider a narrowed request if the chairman spelled out the legislative purpose and legal support for the information he is seeking.

• Washington Post, Barr jokes to Pelosi outside Capitol: ‘Did you bring your handcuffs?’

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The obsession with redaction is hiding the obvious: Trump committed crimes, Walter Dellinger, May 16, 2019 (print ed.). Walter Dellinger, 78, shown at right in a 1996 file photo, was head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996 and acting solicitor general from 1996 to 1997. I have become increasingly concerned about how the walter dellinger 1996country has received the Mueller report. The Republican talking point is that it exonerated the president. The message from the Democratic House, meanwhile, is that the report is inconclusive. Those responses, one mendacious, one tepid and both erroneous, have shaped public understanding. They have not only allowed the president falsely to claim vindication but also left the public without a clear understanding of just how damning the report is.

Most Americans, understandably not having read the 448-page (redacted) report, may be influenced by how the principal parties have responded. If the report were, as the Republicans insist, an exoneration, one might demand to know how this unwarranted investigation got started in the first place, which is exactly how the GOP has proceeded to turn the conversation.

And if you thought the report was merely inconclusive, your natural reaction would be that you need to know more. You would say something like what many House Democrats are repeating endlessly: “We need to see the redactions” and “hear from witnesses” — suggesting that there is as of yet no sufficient basis for judging President Trump’s conduct.

The more I review the report, the more absurd and misleading the we-need-to-know-more response seems to be. And the more it seems to have contributed to public misunderstanding. How different would it have been if a unified chorus of Democratic leaders in Congress and on the campaign trail had promptly proclaimed the actual truth: This report makes the unquestionable case that the president regularly and audaciously violated his oath and committed the most serious high crimes and misdemeanors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats adhere to Pelosi’s no-impeachment strategy despite Trump’s defiance, Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, May 16, 2019 (print ed.). Several rank-nancy pelosiand-file lawmakers want to begin impeachment proceedings. President Trump, who is refusing to cooperate with more than 20 congressional investigations, instructed current and former aides Wednesday to ignore a House committee’s request for documents in the latest act of defiance that has prompted Democrats to declare that the nation is facing a constitutional crisis.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, told Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning to stick to their policy agenda ahead of the 2020 election rather than initiate impeachment proceedings. And not a single lawmaker challenged her, according to a person in the room who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Trump Team Embattled Over War

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran, John Hudson, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan, May 16, 2019 (print ed.). The president is not inclined to respond forcefully unless Iranians make a “big move,” a senior White House official said.

President Trump is frustrated with some of his top advisers, who he thinks could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars, according to several U.S. officials. Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders.

Disagreements over assessing and responding to the recent intelligence — which includes a directive from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that some American officials interpret as a threat to U.S. personnel in the Middle East — are also fraying alliances with foreign allies, according to multiple officials in the United States and Europe.

Trump Pardons Billionaire Crony

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pardons billionaire friend Conrad Black, who wrote a book about him, Colby Itkowitz, May 16, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump gave a full pardon to a longtime friend who last year wrote a glowing book about Trump’s successes. Conrad Black was convicted in 2007 on fraud charges, including alleged embezzlement, and obstruction of justice. He served more than three years in prison and was deported to his native Canada after he was released in 2012. He was barred from returning to the United States for 30 years.

conrad black principle coverThe White House said in a statement that Black was “entirely deserving” of the pardon. In listing Black’s accomplishments, it mentions biographies Black wrote about presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, but not his tome on Trump.

On the first page of that book, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” Black writes: “Like the country he represents, Donald Trump possesses the optimism to persevere and succeed, the confidence to affront tradition and convention, a genius for spectacle, and a firm belief in common sense and the common man.”

In addition to his book, Black frequently writes columns praising Trump and considers the president a friend.Black, whose media company owned the Chicago Sun Times, at one time partnered with Trump to build Trump Tower in Chicago, but Trump later bought him out.

Black denied at the end of last year that he was trying to get a pardon from Trump.

May 15

Trump, Barr & Presidential Power Grab

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Unprecedented former prosecutors' letter contains a few surprises, Wayne Madsen, May 15, 2019. The unprecedented statement by former federal prosecutors emphasizing the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller should have resulted in “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice” being brought against Donald Trump -- if not for the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President -- has grown to over 900 signatures.

President Ronald Reagan, right, and Attorney General Edwin Meese, left, greeted in a White House 1983 meeting future Attorney General William P. Barr, a former CIA staffer who was then deputy assistant director of legal police at the Justice Department (Reagan Library photo)

President Ronald Reagan, right, and Attorney General Edwin Meese, left, greeted in a White House 1983 meeting future Attorney General William P. Barr, a former CIA staffer who was then deputy assistant director of legal police at the Justice Department (Reagan Library photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, How William Barr, now serving as a powerful ally for Trump, has championed presidential powers, Tom Hamburger, May 15, 2019 (print ed.). Embracing a theory that the Constitution grants presidents sweeping authority, Barr is part of a group of conservative intellectuals who have been leading the charge to expand the powers of the executive branch over the past four decades. The doctrine, which gained support amid a backlash against post-Watergate constraints on the presidency, is back in the fore as President Trump and Congress are locked in a bitter fight over the bounds of executive power.

william barr new oDuring his first tour at the Justice Department, Barr, right, issued a controversial secret opinion saying that the president could order the FBI to take people into custody in foreign countries, a ruling that paved the way for the arrest in Panama of then-leader Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Two years after that, Barr offered another far-reaching interpretation of presidential power, advising President George H.W. Bush that he did not need congressional approval to invade Iraq. Later, as attorney general, he backed Bush’s pardons of six Reagan administration officials charged in the Iran-contra investigation, a move the independent counsel described at the time as “a coverup.”

Now, back at the helm of the Justice Department under Trump, Barr is in a singular position to put his philosophy into action. In just a few months, he has made his imprint, defending the White House as it pushes a hard-line immigration policy, defies congressional subpoenas and boldly asserts the reach of executive privilege. Barr recently appointed a U.S. attorney to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a probe for which Trump has publicly called.

Barr has not been alone in advocating robust executive powers, a view articulated by Edwin Meese, attorney general under President Ronald Reagan; the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Watergate-era Solicitor General Robert Bork, among others.

But Barr popularized, codified and interpreted the concept, helping put the theory into practice, legal experts and colleagues said.

Trump's Trade War

washington post logoWashington Post, Trade war’s pain for rural areas raises tensions between Trump, Republicans, Damian Paletta, Erica Werner and Taylor Telford, May 15, 2019 (print ed.). china flag SmallSome Republican senators, increasingly frustrated with President Trump, took the unusual step of openly criticizing him. Fueling their concerns was the impression that Trump may not have a clear endgame.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Moves to Ban Foreign Telecom Gear, Escalating Battle With China, Cecilia Kang and David E. Sanger, May 15, 2019. President Trump moved on Wednesday to ban American telecommunications firms from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a threat to national security, White House officials said, stepping up a battle against China by effectively barring sales by Huawei, the country’s leading networking company.

Mr. Trump issued an executive order instructing the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, to ban transactions “posing an unacceptable risk” but did not single out any nation or company. The action has long been expected and is the latest salvo in the administration’s economic and security battle with China. It is also the most extreme move in the Trump administration’s fight against China’s tech sector.

May 15

Barr & Presidential Power Grab

President Ronald Reagan, right, and Attorney General Edwin Meese, left, greeted in a White House 1983 meeting future Attorney General William P. Barr, a former CIA staffer who was then deputy assistant director of legal police at the Justice Department (Reagan Library photo)

President Ronald Reagan, right, and Attorney General Edwin Meese, left, greeted in a White House 1983 meeting future Attorney General William P. Barr, a former CIA staffer who was then deputy assistant director of legal police at the Justice Department (Reagan Library photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, How William Barr, now serving as a powerful ally for Trump, has championed presidential powers, Tom Hamburger, May 15, 2019 (print ed.). Embracing a theory that the Constitution grants presidents sweeping authority, Barr is part of a group of conservative intellectuals who have been leading the charge to expand the powers of the executive branch over the past four decades. The doctrine, which gained support amid a backlash against post-Watergate constraints on the presidency, is back in the fore as President Trump and Congress are locked in a bitter fight over the bounds of executive power.

During his first tour at the Justice Department, Barr issued a controversial secret opinion saying that the president could order the FBI to take people into custody in foreign countries, a ruling that paved the way for the arrest in Panama of then-leader Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Two years after that, Barr offered another far-reaching interpretation of presidential power, advising President George H.W. Bush that he did not need congressional approval to invade Iraq. Later, as attorney general, he backed Bush’s pardons of six Reagan administration officials charged in the Iran-contra investigation, a move the independent counsel described at the time as “a coverup.”

Now, back at the helm of the Justice Department under Trump, Barr is in a singular position to put his philosophy into action. In just a few months, he has made his imprint, defending the White House as it pushes a hard-line immigration policy, defies congressional subpoenas and boldly asserts the reach of executive privilege. Barr recently appointed a U.S. attorney to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a probe for which Trump has publicly called.

Barr has not been alone in advocating robust executive powers, a view articulated by Edwin Meese, attorney general under President Ronald Reagan; the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Watergate-era Solicitor General Robert Bork, among others.

But Barr popularized, codified and interpreted the concept, helping put the theory into practice, legal experts and colleagues said.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, U. S. judge voices doubt on Trump bid to block House subpoena for financial records, Spencer S. Hsu, May 15, 2019 (print ed.). A federal judge in Washington expressed astonishment Tuesday at arguments raised by President Trump’s lawyers seeking to block his accounting firm from turning over years of financial records to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight and Reform Committee and seemed to signal a swift ruling in favor of lawmakers.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta fired pointed questions at the president’s lawyers, who argued in an April 22 lawsuit that the committee’s sweeping subpoena to Mazars USA for the financial records of Trump and various associated entities since 2011 was not “a valid exercise of legislative power.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s not claiming executive power. He’s going for divine right, Dana Milbank, May 15, 2019 (print ed.). North Carolina state Sen. Dan Bishop (R) will face veteran and business executive Dan McCready (D) in September’s do-over election in North Carolina’s scandal-plagued 9th Congressional District, after last year’s results were thrown out amid allegations of election fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s prized Doral resort is in steep decline, company documents show, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, May 15, 2019 (print ed.). The troubles at the Florida resort mark the first known case in which a Trump Organization representative has publicly acknowledged the president’s name has hurt business.

Late last year, in a Miami conference room, a consultant for President Trump’s company said business at his prized 643-room Doral resort was in sharp decline.

At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income — a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent.

May 13

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump suddenly has a Chris Wray problem, Bill Palmer, May 13, 2019. Each time Donald Trump nominates someone to a key position in his administration, he does so with the expectation that the person in question will corruptly do his bidding and protect him from investigation. Sometimes that’s worked out for Trump, and sometimes it hasn’t.

bill palmer report logo headerConsidering that Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey specifically to try to stop the Trump-Russia investigation, it’s a given that when Trump subsequently appointed Chris Wray to replace Comey, he thought he was picking someone who would be personally loyal to him. But from the start, Wray has said all the appropriate things in public, and there’s no evidence that Wray is trying to rig things for Trump behind the scenes. Now that’s coming to a head.

After Donald Trump’s cartoonishly corrupt Attorney General William Barr publicly and falsely claimed that the FBI had been “spying” on the Trump campaign, Chris Wray, below at right, publicly shot down this nonsense.

christopher wray officialWe’ve all been waiting for Trump to finally turn his ire toward Wray, and last night it happened. Trump tweeted this quote from Fox News stooge Lou Dobbs: “Even Director James Clapper admits that the FBI actions against the Trump Presidential Campaign do in fact meet the definition of spying, perhaps FBI Director Christopher Wray will be the next to do so.” To be clear, that’s not what Clapper actually said. Then Trump added a quote from another of his puppets: “The FBI has no leadership. The Director is protecting the same gang that tried to overthrow the President through an illegal coup.”

The important thing here is that Donald Trump is finally attacking Christopher Wray in public, over Wray’s refusal to go along with Trump’s phony “spying” narrative. Trump is clearly upset, but what’s he going to do? If he were to fire another FBI Director, particularly right now as his scandals are exploding, it would only make things worse for him. But things are clearly coming to a head between Trump and Wray – and that may not end well for either of them.

May 12

washington post logoWashington Post, To fight House probes, Trump and his allies employ a block-everything strategy, Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim, May 12, 2019. President Trump’s Donald Trumpnoncooperation strategy has shifted from partial resistance to all-out war as he faces more than 20 separate investigations from the Democratic-controlled House — a move that many legal and congressional experts fear could undermine the institutional power of Congress for years to come. (Trump is shown on a 2016 cover of the Weekly Standard magazine.).

• Washington Post, A guide to 20 inquiries Trump and his allies are working to impede, May 12, 2019 (print ed.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I led a platoon in Iraq. Trump is wrong to pardon war criminals, Waitman Wade Beorn, May 12, 2019. Soldiers pay attention to example. Murderous leaders command murderous units.

In early 2003, as a cavalry officer, I stood in front of my scout platoon at dusk after a long day preparing to deploy to Iraq. I spoke with them about the law of war and how they should treat civilians when we got into theater. It wasn’t a long conversation, but I felt that giving clear guidance about what was acceptable — and not acceptable — was important. They should treat the civilians as they would neighbors, I told them. Soldiers take most seriously the things their leadership makes most serious.

michael behenna djtOn Monday, President Trump pardoned the convicted war criminal Michael Behenna, who had murdered Ali Mansur, an unarmed, naked Iraqi, by shooting him in the head and chest. Making a specious claim of self-defense, Behenna (shown with Trump in separate file photos) argued that Mansur threw a piece of concrete at him and “ stood up like he’s coming at me.”

And so he neutralized this threat, a naked man, already released by the Army. Behenna was supposed to be returning Mansur home to his village. A military court convicted Behenna of unpremeditated murder. American soldiers testified against him. The military court of appeals and a review panel upheld that conviction, though he was paroled early, in 2014.

Waitman Wade Beorn, a combat veteran of Iraq, is a Holocaust and genocide studies historian, a lecturer at the University of Virginia, and the author of “Marching Into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus.” He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Congress isn’t just a co-equal branch. We’re first among equals, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (right, D-MD), May 12, 2019 (print ed.). There’s a reason the House and Senate were set out right after the words “We the People.” Oversight isn’t the only area where the president thinks he can supersede and supplant Congress. He believes he can declare a national security emergency when lawmakers reject funding for his border wall — and then jamin raskin american university Custom 2reprogram money Congress has appropriated for other purposes to build the wall behind our backs.

And despite the fact that his main job is to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” as the Constitution’s Article II provides, he routinely sabotages the effective administration of the Affordable Care Act (by starving recruitment efforts and promoting “junk” plans) and encourages government officials at the border to violate the law on asylum seekers. All this falls outside of his constitutional power.

Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Judiciary and Oversight Committees. He is an emeritus professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law.

U.S. Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: ‘Executive privilege’ is a new concept built on a shaky legal foundation, Aziz Huq, May 12, 2019 (print ed.). It’s not mentioned in the Constitution, and the Supreme Court only recognized it in 1974.

President Trump says “executive privilege” prevents the House from seeing the unredacted Mueller report and investigating a number of other subjects. The White House’s letter rebuffing Congress doesn’t spell out exactly why it thinks the requested material is privileged; rather, it asserts a “protective” power of the president, as a matter of constitutional right, to decide what to share. In response, Democratic House leaders complain that Trump is sparking a “constitutional crisis” by blocking their authority to investigate wrongdoing by officials (including, thanks to the impeachment clause, the president).

But few pause to ask where a president’s supposed executive privilege comes from. What if the oversight pileup we’re witnessing flows not from Trump’s norm-busting tendencies but rather from the hazardously open-ended concept of executive privilege itself?

Conservative jurists have ferociously criticized the idea of “unenumerated” constitutional rights (such as a right to abortion), describing them as licenses for partisan entrepreneurship. Yet the right to executive privilege is not mentioned in the Constitution’s text, either, and its historical pedigree is dubious: In the early republic, presidents did not consistently claim a constitutional right to withhold information from Congress. When the privilege has been invoked, it’s been in situations laced with obvious self-interest and partisan motives. Strikingly, its formal judicial recognition came almost 200 years after the founding. Its tenuous foundations ought to shape how we evaluate Trump’s invocation of executive privilege.

aziz huqThe late Raoul Berger, a leading originalist scholar on executive privilege, called the presidential perquisite a “constitutional myth.” He noted, too, that the president’s Article II obligation “to from time to time give to the Congress information on the State of the Union” has no stated limit. For Berger, it was clear that the president had a primary obligation of disclosure to lawmakers, not a license for reticence.

Aziz Huq, right, teaches law at the University of Chicago, and is co-author of "How to Save a Constitutional Democracy."

washington post logo

May 10

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Timespaul krugman, Opinion: Trump Is Terrible for Rural America, Paul Krugman, right, May 10, 2019 (print ed.). His biggest supporters are his biggest victims. Rural America is a key part of Donald Trump’s base. In fact, rural areas are the only parts of the country in which Trump has a net positive approval rating. But they’re also the biggest losers under his policies.

What, after all, is Trumpism? In 2016 Trump pretended to be a different kind of Republican, but in practice almost all of his economic agenda has been G.O.P. standard: big tax cuts for corporations and the rich while hacking away at the social safety net. The one big break from orthodoxy has been his protectionism, his eagerness to start trade wars.

And all of these policies disproportionately hurt farm country.

Trump Watch

richard neal headshotRoll Call, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig subpoenaed over Trump tax returns, Doug Sword, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, right, announced Friday he had issued subpoenas to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to provide President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Neal first asked for six years of Trump’s tax returns and six years of returns from eight of the president’s businesses in an April 3 letter to IRS Commission Charles Rettig. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, responded that he was considering the request while making arguments as to why Neal was not entitled to the documents.

Neal rejected those arguments in an April 13 letter and on May 6, Mnuchin formally rejected the Massachusetts Democrat’s request. Neal made his request under Sec. 6103 of the tax code, which states that upon “written request” from the chairman of either of the two tax-writing committees, “the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified” in the request.

Neal and legal experts have predicted the issue could entail a lengthy court battle.

djt epstein mar a lagoTheHill.com, George Conway slams Trump for calling Biden 'creepy': You 'palled around with Jeffrey Epstein,' Rachel Frazin, May 10, 2019. George Conway, below left, an attorney and husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, criticized President Trump Friday for calling former Vice President Joe george conway twitterBiden creepy, noting that Trump has been linked to financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has been accused of sexually abusing multiple underage girls.

The president on Friday referred to Biden as "SleepyCreepy Joe" in a tweet, referencing the multiple women who have said that Biden touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Biden is a top contender in the 2020 Democratic primary to challenge Trump, leading in polls and touting big fundraising numbers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Subpoena of Trump Jr. sets off a firefight among Republicans, Seung Min Kim and Karoun Demirjian, May 10, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers took sides on the propriety of a demand that the president’s eldest son testify again in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s decision to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. (right) has ignited an internal Republican firefight over the fate of the committee’s Russia probe, as the panel’s GOP chairman showed no signs of backing down despite fierce criticism from many of his colleagues that it was time to move on.

donald trump jr croppedThe sudden infighting threatened to undermine support for the Senate’s Russia investigation, which is the sole bipartisan probe in Congress into Russian interference in the 2016 election and has been widely praised as operating with little public drama.

richard burr oMuch of the backlash against the decision by Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.), left, to subpoena President Trump’s eldest son came from GOP senators who are up for reelection next year and from those closely aligned with the president. The outrage was partially fueled by Trump Jr. and his own allies.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the intelligence panel, said the intense criticism of Burr was in part a misunderstanding of the focus of the committee’s investigation, which Rubio said is being inaccurately conflated with the special counsel probe. “Mueller is a criminal justice investigation,” Rubio said. “Ours is an intelligence investigation about the Russia threat and about the way our agencies performed.”

President Donald Trump officialWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Trump's bankrupt days were rife with drug smugglers, May 10, 2019 (subscription required). Donald Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994 that show he was $1.17 billion in debt may not be a surprise to anyone who realized his risky venture into Atlantic City casinos posed a potential financial loss for the real estate businessman.

Dissenting Pro-Trump Views On Mueller Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone asks court to toss out evidence, saying Russian hacking of Democrats in 2016 is ‘assumption,’ Spencer S. Hsu, May 10, 2019. Stone claims court-approved search warrants illegally relied on unproven assumptions. Attorneys for Trump confidant Roger Stone urged a federal judge Friday to toss out all evidence gathered through search warrants in his case, saying court-approved warrants illegally relied on unproven assumptions that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 campaign or gave them to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Stone’s lawyers made the allegation in a nine-page motion to suppress evidence in his November trial on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering connected to his efforts to gather information about the stolen Democratic emails and their release to WikiLeaks and other groups.

Stone, 66, has pleaded not guilty, and his latest court filing in Washington sought a hearing to force U.S. authorities to prove in court the role of Russian operatives in hacks on the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta.

In doing so, Stone’s defense took up a theory backed by some Trump supporters that denies a central finding of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election: Moscow’s primary role in the “sweeping and systemic” cyber effort.

The Mueller probe in July 2018 publicly indicted members of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU in the hack on Democratic organizations and the Clinton campaign, accusing specific military units and 12 named officers of a sustained, sophisticated effort to steal and publish data to influence U.S. voting.

May 9

'Constitutional Crisis,' Pelosi Warns

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Declares Nation Is in a ‘Constitutional Crisis,’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, May 9, 2019. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the United States was in a “constitutional crisis” and warned that House Democrats might move to hold more Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress if they continued their refusals to comply with committee subpoenas.

nancy pelosi oSpeaking to reporters in the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi (shown in a file photo) said she agreed with Representative Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who said Wednesday that the nation was in a constitutional crisis after his committee recommended the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over an unredacted version of the special counsel’s report, along with the report’s underlying evidence.

“The administration has decided they are not going to honor their oath of office,” she said.

Ms. Pelosi said Democrats would bring the contempt citation to the floor for a vote of the full House “when we are ready.”

democratic donkey logoDemocrats have not settled on a precise date for the vote to hold Mr. Barr in contempt of Congress, though Mr. Nadler said after Wednesday’s vote that he wanted it scheduled “rapidly.”

Democratic leaders may wait to pair the Judiciary Committee’s contempt recommendations with another, most likely from the Intelligence Committee should its conflict with the Justice Department get to that point.

The committee’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, issued a subpoena on Thursday for Mr. Barr to hand over the full Mueller report and evidence, as well as all counterintelligence and foreign intelligence generated by the special counsel’s investigations. He gave the Justice Department until May 15 to comply. If Mr. Barr ignores that deadline, the Intelligence Committee would probably hold its own contempt proceedings and send another recommendation to the House floor.

There are other possible contempt citations in the wings as well, including for Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel who is under subpoena by the Judiciary Committee, and witnesses in unrelated Oversight and Reform Committee investigations.

Ms. Pelosi has been urging caution since the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel; she believes that Democrats campaigned on addressing issues like health care and the high cost of prescription drugs and must keep their focus on priorities for voters.

Dissenting Pro-Trump Views On Mueller Probe

craig murray uk ambassadorCraigMurray.org, Opinion: The Real Muellergate Scandal, Craig Murray, right, May 9, 2019. I did not comment instantly on the Mueller Report as I was so shocked by it, I have been waiting to see if any other facts come to light in justification. Nothing has. I limit myself here to that area of which I have personal knowledge – the leak of DNC and Podesta emails to Wikileaks.

On the DNC leak, Mueller started with the prejudice that it was “the Russians” and he deliberately and systematically excluded from evidence anything that contradicted that view.

Mueller, as a matter of determined policy, omitted key steps which any honest investigator would undertake. He did not commission any forensic examination of the DNC servers. He did not interview Bill Binney. He did not interview Julian Assange. His failure to do any of those obvious things renders his report worthless.

May 8

Barr Cited For Contempt

 ny times logoNew York Times, House Panel Votes to Recommend Contempt for Barr, Nicholas Fandos, May 8, 2019. The vote by the House Judiciary Committee against Attorney General William P. Barr came after he failed to turn over the unredacted Mueller report. Hours earlier, President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report. Both moves escalate the drama in an increasingly tense battle. 

william barr new oThe House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr, right, in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence from public view.

The committee’s 24-16 contempt vote, taken after hours of debate that featured apocalyptic language about the future of American democracy, marked the first time that the House has taken official action to punish a government official or witness amid a standoff between the legislative and executive branch. The Justice Department decried it as an unnecessary and overwrought reaction designed to stoke a fight.

The drama raised the stakes yet again in an increasingly tense battle over evidence and witnesses as Democrats investigate Mr. Trump and his administration. By the day’s end, it seemed all but inevitable that the competing claims would have to be settled in the nation’s courts rather than on Capitol Hill, as Democrats had initially hoped after the initial delivery of Mr. Mueller’s report.

“Our fight is not just about the Mueller Report — although we must have access to the Mueller report. Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress, as an independent branch, to hold the president, any president, accountable,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, during a grueling debate that ended with a vote along party lines.

The executive privilege assertion was Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president. The Justice Department described it as “protective” to allow Mr. Trump time to fully review the materials to make a final privilege determination. But the timing of the assertion signaled that the White House is eager for a fight, and the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, indicated that no change of heart was coming.

Senate Subpoenas Trump Jr.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the Senate Intelligence Committee just subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., Bill Palmer, May 8, 2019.  Even as the House Judiciary Committee donald trump jr croppedwas voting to hold Donald Trump’s Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, the surprising news leaked that the Senate Intelligence Committee is subpoenaing Donald Trump Jr to testify about his role in the Trump-Russia scandal. So what’s really going on here?

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump Jr already testified about the Trump-Russia scandal for the Senate once, and his testimony has since proven to be – how can we say this politely – factually false. Because this committee is controlled by Donald Trump’s Republican Party, some observers are assuming on first blush that the GOP is coordinating with Trump Jr to bring him back in, so he can clean up his testimony and thus insulate himself from potential perjury charges.

But if that were the case, Junior would be coming in voluntarily, and the subpoena wouldn’t be needed. In fact NBC News is now reporting that Jr did refuse to voluntarily appear.

This raises some other possibilities. Notably, the redacted Mueller report recently revealed that in 2017, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr conspired with the Trump White House behind the scenes to try to give Trump’s people the upper hand. Now suddenly Burr is forcing Trump Jr to come back in and answer for his previous possible perjury.

Is this a matter of Burr trying to protect himself?

Trump Taxes Revealed Huge Losses

ny times logoNew York Times, Times Investigation: Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig, May 8, 2019 (print ed.). Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses; Newly obtained tax information reveals that from 1985 to 1994, Donald J. Trump’s businesses were in far bleaker condition than was previously known. By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.

ny times logoMr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.

The data — printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 — represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career — an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.

donald trump cover art of the dealThe numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.

ny times logoNew York Times, 5 Takeaways From 10 Years of Trump Tax Figures, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, May 8, 2019 (print ed.). Since the 2016 presidential campaign, journalists at The New York Times and elsewhere have been trying to piece together Donald J. Trump’s complex and concealed finances. Now The Times has obtained 10 years of previously unrevealed figures from the president’s federal income tax returns. The tax numbers, for the years 1985 through 1994, paint a far bleaker picture of Mr. Trump’s deal-making abilities and financial condition than the one he has long put forth.

Here are some key takeaways.

  1. Mr. Trump was deep in the red even as he peddled deal-making advice. Trump: The Art of the Deal came out in 1987. It became a best seller — and a powerful vehicle for the self-spun myth of the self-made billionaire that would ultimately help propel him to the presidency.
  2. In multiple years, he appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual taxpayer
  3. He paid no federal income taxes for eight of the 10 years
  4. He made millions posing as a corporate raider — until investors realized he never followed through
  5. His interest income spiked in 1989 at $52.9 million, but the source is a mystery

The newly revealed tax information covers an earlier period of Mr. Trump’s business career. And The Times did not obtain Mr. Trump’s actual tax returns. But it obtained printouts from his official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, from someone who had legal access to them. They represent the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes. And they show that during a tumultuous decade of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse, Mr. Trump’s core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings — ran up $1.17 billion in losses.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.Y. legislature advances bill that would allow Congress to access Trump’s state tax returns, Jeff Stein, May 8, 2019. Republicans in New York have ridiculed the move as an attempt to embarrass the president.

Trump Watch / Oversight

 washington post logosteven mnuchin wWashington Post, A day after blocking House demand for Trump’s tax returns, Mnuchin addressed gathering of his top fundraisers, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta, May 8, 2019 (print ed.). Treasury secretaries in recent years have avoided fundraiser events with people they could be tasked with regulating, in part because of their role in overseeing a broad swath of companies in the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, right, spoke to top Trump administration campaign "bundlers," some from the financial sector directly regulated by him and his staff, at an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. to ask Trump to invoke executive privilege over redacted Mueller materials, Rachael Bade and Matt Zapotosky, May 8, 2019 (print ed.). The move would all but assure that the attorney general will be held in contempt of Congress.

U.S. Constitutional Crisis Ramps Up

ny times logoadam liptakNew York Times, News Analysis: Clash Between Trump and House Democrats Poses Threat to Constitutional Order, Adam Liptak, May 8, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s wholesale refusal to provide information to Congress threatens to upend the delicate balance that is the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.

Earlier administrations fought isolated skirmishes over congressional subpoenas. Mr. Trump, by contrast, has declared an all-out war on efforts by House Democrats to look into his official conduct and business dealings. And that has legal experts across the ideological spectrum warning that the president’s categorical opposition to what he sees as partisan meddling could create a constitutional crisis — an impasse that the allocation of interlocking powers and responsibilities by the framers cannot solve.

“A president who refuses to respond to congressional oversight is taking the presidency to new levels of danger,” said William P. Marshall, a law professor at the University of North Carolina. “We’re supposed to be in a system of checks and balances, and one of the biggest checks that Congress has over the executive is the power of congressional oversight.”

“Not responding to that is to literally say that you’re above the law and you’re above the Constitution,” he said. “There’s nothing in history that comes even close to that.”

John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former official in the George W. Bush administration, said Mr. Trump’s approach was novel and dangerous.

“The thing that’s unusual is the blanket refusal,” Professor Yoo said. “It would be extraordinary if the president actually were to try to stop all congressional testimony on subpoenaed issues. That would actually be unprecedented if it were a complete ban.”

“He’s treating Congress like they’re the Chinese or a local labor union working on a Trump building,” he said.

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: The Pros Agree: Trump Would Be in Handcuffs but for OLC, Bill Yeomans, May 8, 2019. This week, I joined some 700 former federal prosecutors (the bill yeomans afj cropped Customnumber is still growing) in signing a letter attesting to Trump’s obstruction of justice. The signatories span Democratic and Republican administrations. Many worked at the Department of Justice for decades. The letter stated: “Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

The letter discussed areas in which the evidence establishes violations of the obstruction of justice statutes, including, “[t]he President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort; [t]he President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and [t]he President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.”

alliance for justice logoThe letter said: “We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment.” It concluded that “to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.”

So, the opinion of the professionals is in: the President of the United States committed serious crimes while in office, crimes that cut to the core integrity of our system of justice. The letter directly rejects Attorney General Barr’s conclusion that Trump did not obstruct justice.

The letter was necessary only because Barr flagrantly misrepresented the contents of the report, giving Trump and uncritical journalists an easy talking point: no collusion, no obstruction. We know that the report explicitly rejected making findings about collusion, concluding instead that the available evidence did not support finding a criminal conspiracy. Indeed, the report contains substantial evidence of a symbiotic relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign that looks undeniably like collusion.

And now, we know that Attorney General Barr’s determination that the report did not support a finding of obstruction runs dramatically against the overwhelming weight of experienced professional opinion. Sadly, Robert Mueller appears to have underestimated the hurdles the essential findings of his investigation would have to surmount to reach Congress and the public. Mueller prepared summaries for public release that are very damaging for Trump and would have launched a very different public discussion had Barr not suppressed them in favor of his own distorted summary. As has happened too often in our recent political life, the play-by-the-rules straight shooter was run over by a ruthless, shortsighted partisan.

Another U.S. School Shooting

washington post logoWashington Post, Student dies, eight classmates hurt in shooting at suburban Denver school, Susan Svrluga, Perry Stein and Nick Anderson, May 8, 2019 (print ed.). One student died, and eight classmates were injured Tuesday in a shooting at a suburban Denver school, law enforcement authorities said, less than a month after the region marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

Two suspects, both students at the school, are in custody, according to Douglas County officials. The adult suspect was named late Tuesday as 18-year-old Devon Erickson. The other suspect is a juvenile female, officials said.

The Denver region has been on edge as the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre was memorialized, and deadly threats were called in to other Denver-area schools. The Columbine attack, in which two teenagers killed 13 people, marked the beginning of a new era in the United States — a time when the threat of school shootings has taught a generation of children how to flee, hide and even fight back when faced with a gunman.

It had been only days since another school shooting. At the University of North Carolina in Charlotte last week, a student tackled a gunman who opened fire on a classroom, police said, killing two and injuring four others.

donald trump jesus us navy john singleton copley

President Donald J. Trump.Photo credit: US Navy and John Singleton Copley / Wikimedia.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Analysis: Did Trump Find Religion? Don’t Hold Your Breath, WhoWhatWhy Staff, May 8, 2019. President Donald Trump last week claimed that leaning on God has helped him make it through the “witch hunts” he has been subjected to. It makes sense for the president to pander to Christian conservatives, who are among his most ardent supporters. But is his claim of being religious credible?

In 2016, before Trump had even secured the Republican nomination, WhoWhatWhy investigated his assertion that, because he is a “strong Christian,” he was being audited by the IRS — and therefore could not release his tax returns.

Back then, we went through all of his books to find evidence of this strong faith. We discover very little apart from claims he made when he was already running for president.

Since then, nothing has changed that would convince us that Trump has actually found religion. On Sundays, the president usually worships golf, and he has set records when it comes to bearing false witness.

May 7

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald J. Trump (Gage Skidmore file photo). When asked if the Mueller probe was "a witch hunt" on March 25, President Trump said some people did "treasonous things" and it should never happen again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump would’ve been charged if he weren’t president, 375 ex-prosecutors assert, Matt Zapotosky​, May 7, 2019 (print ed.). The group’s statement offers a rebuttal to the attorney general’s determination that the evidence uncovered by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was “not sufficient” to establish that the president committed obstruction of justice.

More than 370 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations have signed on to a statement asserting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump — if not for the office he held.

Mueller had declined to say one way or the other whether Trump should have been charged, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, as well as concerns about the fairness of accusing someone for whom there can be no court proceeding.

 ny times logoNew York Times, White House Guards Tax Returns as House Threatens to Hold Barr in Contempt, Nicholas Fandos and Alan Rappeport, May 7, 2019 (print ed.). A showdown between the executive and legislative branches ratcheted up as the Trump administration resisted Democrats’ efforts on multiple fronts. The Treasury defied a request for President Trump’s tax returns as House Democrats planned a vote to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two more years? Trump’s retweet sets off a furor over the idea of bonus time, Ashley Parker, May 7, 2019 (print ed.). His backers say the president was just joking, but detractors point to his history of casting doubt on the legitimacy of elections and constitutional norms as reason for concern. President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump for months has griped, complained and tweeted about what he says is the unfair Russia “witch hunt” investigation that has consumed nearly half of his presidency.

Now, the president has floated a possible solution: two bonus years.

Trump over the weekend shared a tweet by Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, in which Falwell complimented Trump for “no obstruction, no collusion” and a soaring economy, before adding, “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”

White House officials and others close to the president said he was joking and is not serious about trying to increase his first four-year term by 50 percent — an extension that would violate the Constitution and has no historical precedent.

ny times logoNew York Times, A leading planner of Mr. Trump’s inaugural festivities said she was “thrown under the bus,” Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess, May 7, 2019 (print ed.). Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a leading contractor for President Trump’s inaugural committee and a former adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, has publicly disputed accounts of her departure from the White House last year, rejecting claims from officials that she was dismissed.

stephanie winston wolkoff twitterMs. Winston Wolkoff (shown on her Twitter photo) specifically took issue with suggestions by White House officials that she had been forced out because of reports that she had profited excessively from her role in helping organize inaugural events. She gave her account of what happened in a statement to The New York Times more than a year after she parted ways with the White House, where she had served as an unpaid adviser to Mrs. Trump after the inauguration.

“Was I fired? No,” Ms. Winston Wolkoff said in the statement. “Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes.”

It was the first time Ms. Winston Wolkoff has provided extensive public comments about the events around her split from the White House, including characterizations at the time by White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that she had been forced out because of reports about lavish spending on the inauguration.

dan mcgahn djtPalmer Report, Opinion: Don McGahn is a few hours from spilling the beans on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, May 6, 2019.  Last week Donald Trump stated on Fox News that he might not allow former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify about the Mueller report before the House Judiciary Committee. This was unintentional comedy, as Trump has no ability whatsoever to stop a former employee from appearing before Congress. Even as we await McGahn’s scheduled testimony on May 21st, we’re actually just a few hours from McGahn seriously spilling the beans on Trump in an equally important way.

Don McGahn (shown at right with Trump in file photos) has until 10am eastern time tomorrow morning to turn over a dump truck’s worth of documents to the House Judiciary Committee. As laid out by Rachel Maddow during her show this evening, the requested documents appear to go well beyond what Robert Mueller focused on in his probe.

bill palmer report logo headerDon McGahn fully and eagerly cooperated with Mueller, so it stands to reason that he’ll do the same with this material subpoenaed by Congress. He’s also shown that he’s very careful about protecting himself, so if he were planning to miss the deadline, he’d surely have said as much by now, and laid out a legal reason. So unless Trump tries something first thing tomorrow morning, House Democrats are about to obtain a treasure trove of documents and notes exposing Trump’s various improprieties while inside the White House.

Donald Trump has never had attorney-client privilege with Mcgahn (White House Counsel is the White House’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer), and Trump waived any executive privilege with McGahn a long time ago. That said, Donald Trump can still make a frivolous last minute court filing in the hope of slowing McGahn down a little bit. But he’s just about out of time for that, and no, a pre-dawn Twitter rant about McGahn tomorrow morning won’t count for anything under the law.

So we’ll see what happens. If Donald Trump can’t find a last minute way to intervene, and Don McGahn forks over all this evidence as expected, it’ll take the House Judiciary Committee some time to sort through it all and find the most incriminating parts. That’s why his testimony is set for two weeks after tomorrow’s deadline. But you can expect the Democrats on the committee to start letting out some of the secrets before McGahn’s testimony, if only to ensure that a large television audience tunes in for it.

May 6

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, In reversal, Trump says Mueller ‘should not testify’ before Congress, Felicia Sonmez, May 6, 2019 (print ed.). “Bob Mueller should not testify,” President Trump tweeted. “No redos for the Dems!” The comment came hours after a key member of the House Judiciary Committee said the panel has proposed a date of May 15 for Robert S. Mueller III to testify but that no deal has been reached.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Cohen reports to prison for 3-year sentence. Suggests once again he has more secrets to spill, Devlin Barrett​​, May 6, 2019. The president’s former lawyer unsuccessfully tried recently to get his sentence delayed or reduced by dangling the prospect of new incriminating information against others.

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, House Democrats to hold contempt vote Wednesday after Barr misses deadline to provide complete Mueller report, Felicia Sonmez and Rachael Bade, May 6, 2019. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said they will vote Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr, right, in contempt of Congress after Barr missed a deadline to produce a complete version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

The panel had set a deadline of 9 a.m. Monday for Barr to provide the unredacted version of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The committee has argued lawmakers need access to the full report to protect the rule of law, ensure Trump has not abused his power and even to consider whether to move to impeach him.

May 5

Trump Watch / Legal News

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, ‘Investigate the investigators’ is new Trump rallying cry to counter Mueller report, Toluse Olorunnipa, May 5, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump and his allies are seeking to amplify claims that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign. Dismissed by critics as an outlandish conspiracy theory, so-called “spygate” is becoming a central feature of his campaign.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just guaranteed his own impeachment, Bill Palmer, May 5, 2019. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have been taking all the necessary first steps in the impeachment of Donald Trump, including cracking down on non-cooperative witnesses who are trying to protect Trump, and scheduling witnesses who are willing to go in front of the cameras and help take Trump down. But because this process will take perhaps a month anyway, there has been no need to call it impeachment yet – and thus no guarantee that House Democrats will actually commit to it when the time comes. That just changed this evening.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump posted a tweet that’s getting a lot of attention because he claimed in illiterate fashion that the first two years have been “stollen” from him by the Mueller probe. Even as everyone makes fun of him, no one should overlook his separate retweet tonight which called for him to have two extra years tacked onto the end of his term. They weren’t Trump’s words, but he adopted them by retweeting them.

Make no mistake, this is the moment that will be looked back upon as the inflection point in Donald Trump’s downfall. He just called for his own presidency to be illegally extended. In so doing, he’s declared himself Emperor of the United States. Just yesterday, Nancy Pelosi predicted that Trump won’t leave peacefully when his term is up – but the average person out there wasn’t going to believe Trump would do something so cartoonishly treacherous unless Trump confessed to it. Now Trump just confessed to it. If and when he loses the 2020 election, he’s telling us that he’ll demand to stay in office two more years.

This retweet alone forces the impeachment issue. It will happen. We don’t know if Trump is strategically forcing impeachment as a way of coming out swinging against Robert Mueller’s upcoming testimony, or if Trump has just snapped and no longer cares what impact his treasonous words might have on him. But impeachment just went from being probable to inevitable. Welcome to the show.

washington post logoWashington Post, In reversal, Trump says Mueller ‘should not testify’ before Congress, Felicia Sonmez, May 5, 2019. “Bob Mueller should not testify,” President Trump tweeted. “No redos for the Dems!” The comment came hours after a key member of the House Judiciary Committee said the panel has proposed a date of May 15 for Robert S. Mueller III to testify but that no deal has been reached.

Inside DC: Border Jobs

ny times logomark morgan cropNew York Times, Trump Names Mark Morgan, Former Head of Border Patrol, to Lead ICE, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael Tackett, May 5, 2019. Mr. Morgan, right, led the Border Patrol during the last months of the Obama administration. But he has expressed agreement with many of President Trump’s hard-line views.

Mr. Morgan served as the Border Patrol chief at the end of the Obama administration, and was also previously an F.B.I. agent. He will lead the agency that arrests, detains and deports people who are in the United States illegally, after Mr. Trump last month withdrew his previous nominee, Ronald D. Vitiello, saying he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher direction.”

May 3

U.S. Justice & Constitutional Crisis

william barr senate hearing cnn screengrab jan 15 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr’s no-show triggers contempt threats, Nixon comparison and more impeachment talk, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner, May 3, 2019 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr’s snub of House Democrats on Thursday has triggered an all-out war between the White House and Congress, pushing the House closer to holding the nation’s top law enforcement official in contempt of Congress and prompting Speaker Nancy Pelosi to liken President Trump to President Richard M. Nixon.

The almost daily confrontations between the two branches of government increase the pressure on Pelosi (D-Calif.) to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, a politically fraught move that she has resisted in the absence of strong public sentiment and bipartisan support. Many Democrats argue that the 2020 election is the best means to oust the president.

But Democrats are infuriated with Barr, who refused to testify Thursday at the House Judiciary Committee’s scheduled hearing on his handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, and Trump’s defiance in the face of multiple congressional requests for documents and witnesses. Democrats cast the administration’s unwillingness to cooperate as a threat to democracy with far-reaching implications.

“Ignoring subpoenas of Congress, not honoring subpoenas of Congress — that was Article III of the Nixon impeachment,” Pelosi said of Trump in a private meeting with colleagues, according to notes taken by an individual present for the remarks. “This person has not only ignored subpoenas, he has said he’s not going to honor any subpoenas. What more do we want?”

Pelosi escalated her rhetoric this week as more Democrats press for tough steps to counter the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House complained to Barr about Mueller report after its release, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, May 3, 2019. The letter from White House lawyer Emmet Flood emerged publicly a day after the attorney general criticized special counsel Robert S. Mueller III at a Senate hearing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes, Carol D. Leonnig​, May 3, 2019. Daily notes jotted down by the chief of staff to the White House counsel provided a trove of evidence cited by the special counsel.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump finds in Barr the attorney general — and shield — he long sought, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Ashley Parker, May 3, 2019. For a time, President Trump was reluctant to select William P. Barr as his attorney general. The veteran Justice Department official from the George H.W. Bush administration was not a longtime Trump loyalist, and the president wondered whether one of his own political allies might serve better as a shield, people familiar with the matter said.

But Trump was ultimately persuaded — in part because his lawyers and advisers told him Barr was a strong supporter of presidential power and unafraid of taking on critics. This week, the president has been thrilled with his choice, particularly after Barr sparred so vigorously with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that some were left wondering whether he viewed himself as the president’s defense attorney, according to people familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

In Barr’s first three months in the job, his actions have served to protect Trump, though his motive is up for debate. Barr’s defenders note that the attorney general has long advocated strengthening the power of the executive branch, and the attorney general has told other lawyers that he is more interested in protecting the presidency than the man in the job.

jerrold nadler o SmallBut critics say that Barr has emerged as the partisan champion Trump always wanted — one willing to defend the president’s most questionable conduct, put a Trumpian spin on the results of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and mislead Congress along the way.

“He has failed the men and women of the Department of Justice by placing the needs of the president over the fair administration of justice,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y., right) said at a congressional hearing Thursday that Barr skipped after a dispute over the terms of his appearance.

May 2

william barr rod rosenstein ocallaghan cspan

The Atlantic, Opinion: The Catastrophic Performance of Bill Barr, The attorney general misled the public in seven key ways, Benjamin Wittes (editor-in-chief of Lawfare), right, May 2, ben wittes brookings2019. atlantic logoI was willing to give Bill Barr a chance. Consider me burned.

When Barr was nominated, I wrote a cautious piece for this magazine declining to give him “a character reference” and acknowledging “legitimate reasons to be concerned about [his] nomination,” but nonetheless concluding that “I suspect that he is likely as good as we’re going to get. And he might well be good enough. Because most of all, what the department needs right now is honest leadership that will insulate it from the predations of the president.”

Barr has now acted, and we can now evaluate his actual, rather than his hypothesized, performance. It has been catastrophic. Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general — whoever he or she is — is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president. In this case it is true.

Barr has consistently sought to spin his department’s work in a highly political fashion, and he has done so to cast the president’s conduct in the most favorable possible light. Trump serially complained that Jeff Sessions didn’t act to “protect” him. Matthew Whitaker never had the stature or internal clout to do so effectively. In Barr, Trump has found his man.

Ironically, the redactions on the report — the matter on which I urged giving Barr the benefit of the doubt — are the one major area where his performance has been respectable. On this matter, he laid out a time frame for the release of the report. He met it. His redactions, as best as I can tell, were not unreasonable, though they were aggressive in some specific areas. To whatever extent he went overboard, Congress has a far-less-redacted version. The public, in any event, has access to a detailed account of Mueller’s conclusions. On this point, Barr did as he said he would.

Where Barr has utterly failed, by contrast, is in providing “honest leadership that insulates [the department] from the predations of the president.” I confess I am surprised by this. I have never known Barr well, but I thought better of him than that.

The core of the problem is not that Barr moved, as many people worried he would, to suppress the report; it is what he has said about it. I have spent a great deal of time with the Mueller report, about which Barr’s public statements are simply indefensible. The mischaracterizations began in his first letter. They got worse during his press conference the morning he released the document. And they grew worse still yesterday in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr recasts McGahn’s account of Trump’s efforts to push out Mueller, Carol D. Leonnig, May 2, 2019 (print ed.).  William P. Barr’s view of the episode with the former White House counsel provided the most revealing look yet at his rationale for determining there was not sufficient evidence to charge President Trump with trying to thwart the probe.

It was one of the most dramatic cases of potential obstruction of justice laid out by federal investigators: President Trump directing the top White House lawyer to seek the removal of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — and then later pushing him to deny the episode.

But Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday played down evidence that Trump sought to fire the head of the investigation bearing down on him, emphasizing in testimony before a Senate committee that the president may have had valid reasons for his actions.

It was a surprise recasting of the account of then-White House counsel Donald McGahn, who told investigators that Trump called him twice in June 2017 at home, pressuring him to intervene with the Justice Department to try to get Mueller removed. McGahn told federal investigators that he planned to resign rather than comply. And he said he later refused a demand by Trump that he write a letter denying news accounts of the episode.

• Washington Post, Barr spars with Democrats over ‘snitty’ Mueller letter

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr, James Comey (former F.B.I. director, shown in an official photo), May 2, 2019 (print ed.). Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t james comeyresist the compromises necessary to survive this president. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?

How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest?

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Mueller’s silence enables Trump, allies to dominate the debate over the probe’s findings, Greg Miller, May 2, 2019 (print ed.). Before the Senate, William P. Barr seemed more like a defense lawyer than the top U.S. law enforcement official.

• Washington Post, Analysis: With ‘snitty’ slip-up, Barr undercuts his argument, Aaron Blake,

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr is a no-show at House hearing, raising chance of a contempt citation, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian, May 2, 2019 (print ed.).  House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the attorney general’s refusal to appear affects Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of the executive branch.

May 1

U.S. Justice & Constitutional Crisis

robert mueller screenshot washington post

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Pushed Twice for Barr to Release Report’s Summaries, Michael S. Schmidt, May 1, 2019. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown above in a file photo), pushed Attorney General William P. Barr twice to release more of his investigative findings in late March after Mr. Barr outlined the inquiry’s main conclusions in a letter to Congress, citing a gap between Mr. Barr’s interpretation and Mr. Mueller’s report, according to a letter released on Wednesday.

The letter, from Mr. Mueller, revealed deep concern about how Mr. Barr handled the initial release of the special counsel’s findings.

Mr. Mueller’s office first informed the Justice Department of their concerns on March 25, a day after Mr. Barr released his letter clearing Mr. Trump but declined to release the special counsel’s findings themselves.

“We communicated that concern to the department on the morning of March 25,” Mr. Mueller said in a second letter to Mr. Barr two days later. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.”

Mr. Barr’s letter “threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,” Mr. Mueller wrote.

ny times logoNew York Times, William Barr Hearing: Live Updates and Analysis of Testimony on the Mueller Report, Staff reports, May 1, 2019. Attorney General William P. Barr will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to testify about his decisions around the special counsel's report.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr, James Comey (former F.B.I. director, shown in an official photo), May 1, 2019. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t james comeyresist the compromises necessary to survive this president. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?

How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lindsey Graham has profane meltdown during William Barr testimony, Bill Palmer, May 1, 2019. If you’ve been wondering why Donald Trump’s disgraced lindsey graham judiciary chairmanAttorney General William Barr was willing to show up and testify about his crimes to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, even as he publicly considers dodging tomorrow’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, you need look no further than the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee is run by Trump’s corrupt lunatic lackey Lindsey Graham. Sure enough, Graham (right) wasted no time turning the whole thing into a freak show this morning.

bill palmer report logo headerGraham kicked off his opening statement by appearing to complain about the air conditioning, and that turned out to be the least strange thing he said. He then went on to falsely claim that Robert Mueller found “no collusion” – such a blatant lie that MSNBC felt compelled to mute him and quickly jump in to explain that Graham was lying. That’s almost unprecedented for a committee chairman’s opening statement, yet it set the tenor for the day.

Graham made the stunning admission that he hasn’t even read the entire Mueller report, and that alone should have caused a trap door to open up underneath him. He then wasted no time bringing up Donald Trump’s favorite phony conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s emails and former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s text messages. At one point Graham read aloud the Strzok quote “Donald Trump is a fucking idiot” for no good reason, and his profanity was broadcast uncensored on live national television. Graham then apologized to any children who were watching.

After Lindsey Graham was finished with his profane, lying, and incoherent meltdown in front of the cameras, Democratic ranking member Dianne Feinstein then used her opening remarks to state the facts about the Mueller report, and Robert Mueller’s letter exposing William Barr’s lies about the Mueller report. We presume Lindsey Graham is now hiding under his desk.

washington post logoWashington Post, Emoluments case can proceed, judge says, providing potential access to information about Trump’s business deals, Jonathan O'Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Carol D. Leonnig​, May 1, 2019 (print ed.). The federal lawsuit, backed by nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers, says the president is violating the Constitution’s emoluments provision when his businesses accept payments from foreign governments.

emmet sullivan 2012Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (a Republican-nominated judge, shown at left) adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption ban and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene.

In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it “unpersuasive and inconsistent.”

The lawsuit is one of two landmark cases against Trump relying on the once-obscure emoluments clauses of the Constitution. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Administration won’t provide details on individual clearances, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, May 1, 2019. The White House said that it will not authorize any executive branch officials to disclose to Congress information about individual security clearances.

The White House said Wednesday that it will not authorize any executive branch officials to disclose to Congress information about individual security clearances, a move that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) called “the latest example of the president’s widespread and growing obstruction of Congress.”

The Oversight panel has been examining the administration’s handling of security clearances and allegations that officials, including presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, were granted access to sensitive information over the objections of career staff.

The investigation has led to an angry and escalating standoff between the House committee and the White House, which accused the panel in a letter Wednesday of “advancing a partisan political agenda.”

Among other things, White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone wrote, “the committee appears to be putting public servants at risk” as it seeks information on the way in which the White House granted security clearances to Kushner and others in the top echelons of the Trump White House.

April 30

U.S. Justice & Constitutional Crisis

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Mueller complained to Barr that his letter did not capture ‘context’ of probe, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, April 30, 2019. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (shown in a Washington Post screenshot) expressed his concerns in a letter to William P. Barr, right, after the attorney general publicized Mueller's principal conclusions. The letter was followed by a phone call during which Mueller pressed Barr to release executive summaries of his report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Emoluments case can proceed, judge says, providing potential access to information about Trump’s business deals, Jonathan O'Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Carol D. Leonnig​, April 30, 2019. The federal lawsuit, backed by nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers, says the president is violating the Constitution’s emoluments provision when his businesses accept payments from foreign governments.

emmet sullivan 2012Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (a Republican-nominated judge, shown at left) adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption ban and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene.

In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it “unpersuasive and inconsistent.”

The lawsuit is one of two landmark cases against Trump relying on the once-obscure emoluments clauses of the Constitution. 

rod rosenstein cropped william barr screenshot april 18 2019

Attorney General William Barr, left, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a Justice Department news conference on April 18 where Barr spun Special Counsel Robert Mueller's then-forthcoming report to make it look like it exonerated President Trump and his main line of defenses (Screenshot).

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Rod "The Weasel" Rosenstein departs Trump's criminal lair, Wayne Madsen (left, author, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst), April 30, 2019 (Subscription normally wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallrequired but released today in the public interest. Excerpted below, with full version on WMR website).

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has tendered his resignation effective May 11. For someone like Donald Trump, who rants and raves like a lunatic about the nefarious “Deep State” he says is out to get him, Rosenstein has been and will remain a committed enforcer of the deep state.

Perhaps, not the deep state in the traditional sense. Rosenstein’s and Attorney General William Barr’s deep state is one of corporate manipulators that, today, finds itself entrenched firmly in the power centers of the United States, Russia, Britain, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, and most of the world’s other major governments sans China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

Rosenstein drafted and signed the letter that fired James Comey as FBI director. Rosenstein joined Barr in pressuring Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller to prematurely wrap up his investigation of foreign meddling in the 2016 election. Rosenstein never raised one peep when Trump appointed sacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions chief of staff Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General, a position for which Whitaker was totally unsuited.

Throughout his career, Rosenstein has been an untrustworthy, slimy worm.

lawrence walshRosenstein’s time in the Public Integrity Section was during Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh’s investigation of the Reagan and Bush administrations for the Iran-Contra scandal. There was plenty of public corruption in those days, but Rosenstein would witness Attorney General Barr prepare pardons for six pardons by George H W Bush for top officials convicted as a result of Walsh’s investigation. Mueller’s exasperation over Barr’s non-cooperation with Walsh’s investigation appeared in William Safire’s column in The New York Times. Safire called Barr “Captain Cover-up.”

From 1995 to 1997, Rosenstein worked in the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr as a co-counsel in what amounted to an actual witch hunt by Republicans of President Bill Clinton.

In 1996, Rosenstein, Starr (shown below), and other prosecutors gathered at a North Little Rock, Arkansas restaurant to celebrate three convictions of ken starr windividuals – James and Susan McDougal and Arkansas Democratic Governor Jim Guy Tucker, all friends of Bill Clinton -- who were found guilty in the so-called “Whitewater” investigation led by Starr. Rosenstein joined the other prosecutors in lighting up their “victory cigars.”

....When Trump appointed Barr to be his “Roy Cohn” at Justice, it was old home week for Rosenstein. Once again, the man who sat in the office of the Attorney General was the same person Rosenstein had assisted thirty years earlier in the cover-up of the Iran-Contra scandal. Rosenstein would use his remaining time at Justice to appear behind Barr at a news conference at which Barr incorrectly described Mueller’s final report on election manipulation as a total exoneration. Rosenstein also praised Barr in public remarks delivered to the Yale Club in New York. In full weasel mode, Rosenstein also lauded Trump for his “respect for the rule of law” and berated the Obama administration and the press.

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: The House Needs a Dose of Urgency, Bill Yeomans (right), April 30, 2019. Attorney General Barr unveiled a heavily smudged version of Robert Mueller’s bill yeomans afj cropped Customreport twelve days ago. He misrepresented its content both in writing and at a press conference before its release. His false narrative – that the president had engaged in neither collusion nor obstruction – continues to resonate with much of the public.

While journalists and experts who have read the 448-page report have rejected Barr’s take and marveled at his audacity, the burden rests with Congress to set the record straight. Congress responded initially with a face-plant, otherwise known as recess. It returns this week to try again.

alliance for justice logoTrump is pushing the House toward impeachment. His posture strengthens the case for bundling investigation of all of his obstructive and contemptuous conduct into hearings in a single forum that is focused on moving toward impeachment. While crystal balls are in short supply, the political argument against impeachment is not clear. Polling suggests that 37% of the general public and 60% of Democrats support the initiation of impeachment. Those numbers seem remarkably high considering that Barr’s spin as amplified by Trump has dominated the news. The polling was conducted before Trump’s full rejection of oversight.

People have not read – and will not read – the full report. Nor are they likely to pay close attention to diffuse oversight hearings in a variety of different committees. But they will pay attention to high-drama, focused hearings in a single committee that lay out the evidence in the report. Democrats need to trust that the public will react with disgust and horror to Trump’s astonishing abuse of the public trust. Recall that Republicans presented united opposition to Nixon’s impeachment and it wasn’t until two weeks before his resignation that a majority of the country first supported his removal from office.

djt robert mueller headshotsTrue, the Senate is unlikely to vote for removal, but months of hearings in the House followed by a trial in the Senate will make every American aware of Trump’s betrayal and will force every Senator to defend their vote to keep Trump in office. That’s a pretty powerful lead into the 2020 election.

This process will not be easy. While Congress may have the legal right to demand that witnesses testify and the executive branch produce documents, the forces of time and inertia favor the president. The House must rely on contempt citations followed by civil enforcement litigation. The process will take time, but moving to impeachment will strengthen the House’s legal position in overcoming executive privilege and objections to the scope of its investigation. It will also help in obtaining grand jury material collected by Mueller.

April 29

peter dale scott american deep state rowman and littlefield Custom

Dr. Peter Dale Scott is considered the father of “Deep Politics” — the study of hidden permanent institutions and interests whose influence on the political realm transcends the elected, appointed, and career officials who come and go. A professor of English at Berkeley and a former Canadian diplomat, he is the author of several critically acclaimed books on the pivotal events of our country’s recent past, including American War Machine (2010) and The American Deep State (2018), which are relevant to the story below.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Analysis: The Mueller Report, Alfa Bank, and the Deep State, Peter Dale Scott, April 29, 2019. The Deep State, and stories of a mysterious computer back channel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest private banks, whose leaders are close to Putin.

alpha bank logoFor two years President Donald Trump and Fox News have been attacking the “deep state” in Washington, usually referring to the intelligence agencies, like FBI and CIA, who have had Trump under investigation.

But my notion of the deep state also includes private sources of power, outside government — but able to influence it illicitly — such as the Russian private Bank Alfa.

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr’s Feud With House Escalates With Threat of Subpoena, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, April 29, 2019 (print. ed.). The House Judiciary Committee was planning to question Attorney General William P. Barr, right, on Thursday. But he objected to the panel’s proposed format. The witness is not going to tell the william barr new ocommittee how to conduct its hearing, period,” the committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler said. Related story below:

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney general may withdraw from Mueller report hearing over terms of his testimony, House Democrats say, Karoun Demirjian and Ellen Nakashima, April 29, 2019. The dispute centers on whether the House Judiciary Committee’s lawyers would be allowed to question William P. Barr after lawmakers do so, congressional aides say.

Randy Rainbow Song Parody, BARR!, Randy Rainbow, April 29, 2019. (4:47 min. video). The singer-comedian takes aim at the attorney general.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: "Progressives” who genuflect at Trump’s altar, Wayne Madsen, April 29, 2019 (subscription required). When the history of the present dysfunctional presidential administration is written, one of the most peculiar aspects out of a whole host of odd phenomena will be the support rendered to Donald Trump from the most unlikely sector of all: a group of normally anti-war and self-professed progressives.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, April 29, 2019. In just seven months, President Trump doubled the number of claims he made in the first 20 months of his presidency. It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day.

djt official SmallBut on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.

This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Rosenstein resigns effective May 11, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, April 29, 2019. ​Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of President Trump and Russia, will step down after a tumultuous two years on the job.
• The Fix: Rosenstein officially bows out — and bows to Trump

April 28

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, The Complicated Friendship of Robert Mueller and William Barr, Russell Berman, April 28, 2019. The special counsel and the attorney general go back a long way, but their bond could be tested by dueling appearances before Congress.

When Attorney General William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report earlier this month, he was presenting the work of a widely respected former FBI director and federal prosecutor—who happens to be his longtime friend. As Barr himself revealed to lawmakers at his Senate confirmation hearing in January, the two men have had a relationship for years. Their families socialize together, their wives attend Bible study together, and the Muellers were guests at the weddings of Barr’s daughters.

djt robert mueller headshotsBut Barr’s handling of Mueller’s report has cast their relationship in a more adversarial light, and it will be tested further in the coming weeks as Democrats seek separate testimony from both men on the central decisions they made at the culmination of Mueller’s two-year investigation of President Donald Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr will appear separately before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on Wednesday and Thursday, with Mueller potentially following later in May.

Former close associates of Mueller see the attorney general’s characterization of his findings—which was generally more favorable to Trump than the report itself—as undercutting the special counsel, if not an outright betrayal. They were particularly put off by Barr’s performance at the press conference he held 90 minutes before releasing the report, which they similarly saw as overly deferential to Trump.

Mueller did not attend, and the attorney general said he didn’t talk to Mueller about his decision to clear Trump of obstruction. “That’s not two friends collaborating collegially on a project,” said Frank Figliuzzi, a former counterintelligence chief at the FBI who briefed Mueller twice a day during their tenure together. “It’s almost worse than undercutting Mueller. It’s saying Mueller’s not even relevant in this.”

When Barr served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush in 1991 and 1992, Mueller was the assistant attorney general heading up the criminal division. Both Barr and Mueller were in their 40s at the time, and colleagues from that period describe them as exceptionally smart and well-prepared lawyers who shared an easy rapport with each other, as well as a reverence for the Department of Justice. “Bob has always had this real strong desire to see the rule of law vindicated. That’s where the two of them are two peas in a pod,” said Paul McNulty, who served as the department’s chief spokesman in the early 1990s and later oversaw Mueller as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration.

Barr and Mueller would sit in daily morning meetings in which Barr would often rib the more straitlaced Mueller about cases. “They got along very well,” recalled Timothy Flanigan, who was then an assistant attorney general overseeing the Office of Legal Counsel. “Bill had a keener sense of humor than Bob. He’d poked fun at Bob, and Bob took it in good grace.”

Mueller, a Marine who became a prosecutor, and Barr, who had worked in policy jobs during the Reagan and Bush administrations, were aligned on the tough-on-crime priorities that were in vogue in the early 1990s. Separately, former colleagues described each of them as the kind of boss who doesn’t “suffer fools.” But they had different strengths and different personalities. “One’s a soldier, one was essentially an intellectual, legal heavyweight,” McNulty told me. While Barr was known as a quick thinker who thought through arguments and made decisions rapidly, Mueller was more deliberative and process-oriented. “Mueller could be more down in the weeds,” McNulty said, “and Barr was more up above the weeds, looking at the constitutional issue, the big legal issue.

Figliuzzi and Anderson, however, described Mueller as deferential to Congress’s oversight role, and they suggested he would find a way to share his views honestly. Figliuzzi recalled that in the rare instances when Mueller was overruled by leaders at the Department of Justice, he would write a confidential memo memorializing his views and send it up the chain. “He wasn’t the one who would yell, scream, bang on the desk, and say, ‘This is all wrong,’” Figliuzzi said. “Those rare examples were very illustrative of him playing within the parameters he was given, but yet asserting his principles and ethics when necessary.

“I think we’ll see that approach in testimony on the Hill,” Figliuzzi continued. “He won’t necessarily come out and champion a cause without having been asked a question, but when he’s asked the right question, you’ll see him say, ‘Yeah, I don’t understand, nor do I agree with, the attorney general’s characterization of the president cooperating.’”

It’ll be on Democrats to see whether they can prod Mueller into opining about Barr, his longtime friend who is once again, at least temporarily, his boss.

April 26

Palmer Report, Opinion: Welcome to uncharted territory, Bill Palmer, April 26, 2019. Donald Trump, in a last ditch effort to salvage his illegitimate and dying presidency, decided this week that the constitutional powers given to Congress no longer exist. He’s instructed all of his Executive Branch officials to simply ignore any requests, demands, or subpoenas that come from the House of Representatives. If he manages to pull it off, there no longer is a Constitution.

bill palmer report logo headerWe can debate if it’s part of some kind of perverse reelection strategy, if he’s doing this simply because he’s maniacally out of control and bent on self destruction. Either way, he’s forcing the House to impeach him, which will happen rather soon. The particularly tricky part is that the House has to put together a case for impeachment, and Trump is actively trying to prevent that from happening. Of course, in so doing, he’s only making the case for impeachment even stronger – and he’s handing House Democrats additional leverage when it comes to dismantling him.

Because Donald Trump is now taking his obstruction of justice to such cartoonishly criminal fashion, House Democrats are preparing to have his regime’s officials arrested if they continue following Trump’s illegal orders to defy congressional subpoenas. We’re now entering that deep dark territory where government officials have to start arresting each other in the hope of keeping the basic tenets of our democracy intact.

The stakes are even higher than you might think. The Mueller report not only lays out the proof that Donald Trump committed a double digit number of felonies, it also explicitly spells out that Trump can be criminally prosecuted for them once he’s no longer in office. That means Trump will be arrested and indicted the minute he’s out of office. He knows it too. He’s single handedly trying to burn our democracy to the ground, in the hope of keeping himself out of prison.

April 25

Trump Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s defiance puts pressure on Congress’s ability to check the president, Seung Min Kim​, April 25, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s decision not to cooperate with House committees, coupled with reluctance from Senate Republicans to cross him, has left Congress struggling to assert itself as a coequal branch of government.

April 24

Trump Defies Congress, Constitution?washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he is opposed to White House aides testifying to Congress, Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman​, April 24, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s comments came as the White House indicated it would broadly defy requests for information from the House, moving the two branches of government closer to a constitutional collision.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mnuchin misses deadline to turn over Trump tax returns, says he will decide by May 6, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, April 24, 2019 (print ed.). It is the first time the treasury secretary has committed to reaching a final decision on House Democrats' request.


washington post logoWashington Post, White House plans to fight House subpoena of former counsel Donald McGahn for testimony on Mueller report, Josh Dawsey, Robert Costa and Rosalind S. Helderman, April 24, 2019 (print ed.). The White House plans to fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee for former White House counsel Donald McGahn, right, to testify, don mcgahn cato screengrabaccording to people familiar with the matter, setting up another showdown in the aftermath of the special counsel report.

The Trump administration also plans to oppose other requests from House committees for the testimony of current and former aides about actions in the White House described in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, according to two people familiar with internal thinking who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke of the plans on the condition of anonymity.

White House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by the House that they will be asserting executive privilege over their testimony, officials said.

April 23

 

Rob Kall PhiladelphiaoenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion: Impeachment Is Not Just About the Conviction. There are Different Fruits, Rob Kall (founder and editor, shown at right), April 23, 2019. Impeachment is not just about the trial and conviction in the senate, far from it. There are different fruits to be harvested.

There are many politicians and pundits who are only focusing on the idea that impeachment in the house is only meaningful if the senate finishes the job and removes Trump. That's just so wrong.

Some thoughts:

First, keep the hell away from anything to do with Russia. Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice. That is huge and it is enough. He is guilty of forcing security clearances for people who were not worthy. It appears he is preventing a full-throated defense of our election system from foreign influence and interference, And he may be guilty of violating the emoluments clause. Probably. Then there are Trump's personal and corporate taxes. There's almost certainly a huge treasure trove there.

That is enough of a shopping list to go after. There may be more and it is worth exploring the other possibilities.

it will take well over a year for the battles between the House Democrats and Donald Trump to work their way through. It is already a sh*t show and it will get worse. It will show Trump and his appointees for what they are-- corrupt, dishonest, exploiting their roles in government, totally disrespecting the law and the constitution. If the Republican in the Senate and the SCOTUS do as expected, they will enable this corruption. That will come across loud and clear to the independents and Republicans who are not blinded by cultish loyalty to Trump-- and there are millions of them.

Even if Mitch McConnell and his band of traitorous colleagues block conviction in the Senate, the nation and the world will convict Trump in their hearts. That will only happen if the House proceeds with hearings and investigations.

The good news is that it appears that the idea of investigations and hearings IS on the table. Call them investigation hearings or impeachment hearings, either way, they are a good thing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six Trump Interior appointees are being investigated for possible ethical misconduct, Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni​, April 23, 2019. The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into whether six of President Trump’s appointees have violated federal ethics rules by engaging with their former employers or clients on department-related business.

The new inquiry, which the office confirmed in an April 18 letter to the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, is looking into senior Interior officials, including Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Campaign Legal Center detailed the officials’ actions in a Feb. 20 letter to the inspector general’s office, suggesting a probe is warranted.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: Is Trump pushing a new strategy of tension between the West and Islam?, April 23, 2019 (Subscription required)  Former Donald Trump campaign official and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is busy establishing his training academy for far-right wing Christian zealots at the Trisulti Charterhouse in Collepardo in central Italy.

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi just subtly committed herself to impeaching Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, April 23, 2019. When the Democratic chairs of the three most influential House committees all began talking openly about the possibility of impeachment this past weekend, Palmer Report pointed out that they wouldn’t be doing this without the blessing of their boss, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Sure enough, now Pelosi is talking impeachment herself – and in fact she’s taking it further than the three committee chairs.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what Nancy Pelosi said about impeachment to House Democrats during a conference call on Monday, according to USA Today: “If that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.” This quote is carefully worded, to say the least. But make no mistake here. Pelosi just said that if the facts end up calling for impeachment, then House Democrats “have” to impeach Donald Trump. The crucial part here is that Pelosi already knows where the facts are going to take us.

To be clear, Pelosi doesn’t appear to have any interest in rushing into impeachment, or at least rushing into calling it impeachment. She also said this during the conference call: “Whether it’s articles of impeachment or investigations, it’s the same obtaining of facts. We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.” This is in line with Palmer Report’s premise that the next month or so of public hearings is going to look the same whether they’re calling it “impeachment” or not.

So now we’re at a place where Nancy Pelosi, who will ultimately be the one to make the decision, is committing herself to impeaching Donald Trump if the upcoming public testimony from people like Robert Mueller and Don McGahn ends up laying out the kinds of evidence that warrant impeachment. That said, it’s more clear than ever that even as Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership swiftly move forward with impeachment hearings and testimony, they’ll wait as long as possible before committing to calling it impeachment.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s the next guy to take the fall for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, April 23, 2019. Say hello to Carl Kline, the guy who forced through the approvals of a whole bunch of illegitimate security clearances for Donald Trump’s underlings and family members, even after security officials and the U.S. intel community had ruled against such clearances.

bill palmer report logo headerHouse Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings has subpoenaed Kline to testify about his role in the scandal, but according to CNN, Trump is now telling Kline to defy the subpoena – and Kline has rather stupidly decided to take Trump’s advice.

This means Kline is about to be held in contempt of Congress, which is not a good place for anyone to be in general. It’ll also put the spotlight on Kline’s actions with regard to whether he broke any laws while approving these illegitimate security clearances. Suddenly, this relative nobody is about to fully bear the brunt of Donald Trump’s abusive overreach.

Mueller Report Fallout

washington post logoWashington Post, Constraints on presidency being redefined in Trump era, report fallout shows, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, April 23, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump repeatedly tried to undermine the Russia investigation, but the special counsel overseeing the probe declined to say whether he broke the law — and the attorney general declared that he had committed no crime.

Trump’s campaign showed a willingness to work with a foreign power — something his personal lawyer now insists is perfectly okay.

And Trump has furiously rejected congressional scrutiny of his presidency — taking the unprecedented step Monday of suing a Democratic committee chairman to block a subpoena for his financial records.

The events of the past week, following the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s dramatic 448-page report, are threatening to redefine the legal and ethical standards that have long served as constraints on the American presidency. And they suggest that few, if any, of the traditional guardrails that have kept Trump’s predecessors in check remain for this president and possibly those who will follow.

philip giraldiUnz Review, Opinion: The Conspiracy Against Trump, Philip M. Giraldi, right, April 23, 2019. The real “deplorable” in today’s United States is the continuation of a foreign policy based on endless aggression to maintain Washington’s military dominance in parts of the world where Americans have no conceivable interest. Many voters backed Donald J. Trump because he committed himself to changing all that, but, unfortunately, he has reneged on his promise, instead heightening tension with major powers Russia and China while also threatening Iran and Venezuela on an almost daily basis.

Now Cuba is in the crosshairs because it is allegedly assisting Venezuela. One might reasonably ask if America in its seemingly enduring role as the world’s most feared bully will ever cease and desist, but the more practical question might be “When will the psychopathic trio of John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Elliott Abrams be fired so the United States can begin to behave like a normal nation?”

Trump, to be sure, is the heart of the problem as he has consistently made bad, overly belligerent decisions when better and less abrasive options were available, something that should not necessarily always be blamed on his poor choice of advisers.

But one also should not discount the likelihood that the dysfunction in Trump is in part comprehensible, stemming from his belief that he has numerous powerful enemies who have been out do destroy him since before he was nominated as the GOP’s presidential candidate. This hatred of all things Trump has been manifested in the neoconservative “Nevertrump” forces led by Bill Kristol and by the “Trump Derangement Syndrome” prominent on the political left, regularly exhibited by Rachel Maddow.

April 22

Mueller Fallout: What's Next?

robert mueller waving hands

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III (file photo)

April 22

Mueller Probe Next Steps

Alliance for Justice, Congress, Bar Barr and Get to the Truth, Bill Yeomans, April 22, 2019. While members of the House majority stroke their chins over how to respond to the bill yeomans afj cropped CustomMueller report, the false Trump/Barr no collusion/no obstruction narrative continues to dominate public perception. House leaders construe this uninformed public perception as reason to hesitate on impeachment. And the public, in turn, reads from the House’s hesitation that the report isn’t so bad. The longer the House waits before launching the inevitable impeachment probe, the more ground it will have to recover. The calendar demands speedy action. The House Judiciary Committee (HJC) should start by skipping testimony from Attorney General Barr and moving straight to Robert Mueller and his fact witnesses.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the HJC on May 2. The last thing the Committee should do is to waste precious time giving this mendacious man another platform to broadcast his false narrative about the Mueller report. While some majority members no doubt relish the prospect of catching Barr in his readily provable lies for all to see, with few exceptions Democrats on the Committee, handcuffed by the five-minute rule and the glare of TV lights, have been ineffective inquisitors.

alliance for justice logoRepublican members, on the other hand, will not hesitate to use the hearing to buttress Barr and spout extended nonsense about the intelligence community abuses that triggered the special counsel investigation. They’ll offer Barr repeated opportunities to expand on his outrageous allegation that “spying” occurred; no matter that what they label spying was actually fully predicated surveillance authorized by federal judges on the FISA court, all of whose members are selected by that well-known anti-Republican partisan, Chief Justice John Roberts. This is a show the country does not need to repeat. And it is certainly not the way the committee majority wants to start educating the country about the real findings of the Mueller report.

rod rosenstein cropped william barr screenshot april 18 2019Instead, cancel Barr and start with Mueller. Mueller’s testimony should do far more to enlighten the committee and undermine Barr’s false narrative than direct cross-examination of Barr. Barr’s lies are already on the record in his letter mis-summarizing the principal conclusions of the report and in the video of his misleading pre-release press conference.

The most basic questioning of Mueller will establish that the report did not address “collusion,” much less find its absence; that contrary to Barr’s statement, Mueller relied heavily on the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion prohibiting indictment of a sitting president in deciding not to label the president a criminal; that he did not intend for Barr to make the call on obstruction of justice; and that Mueller most assuredly – and explicitly -- did not clear Trump of obstruction of justice, instead laying out in detail ten obstructive episodes, at least eight of which any reasonable prosecutor would present to a grand jury for indictment absent the OLC memo. Mueller will also explain his rejection of Barr’s radical view that a president cannot obstruct justice so long as he is exercising a power granted to him by Article II of the Constitution.

Mueller can explain in detail the report’s findings regarding the Russian assault on the 2016 election, as well as the Trump campaign’s embrace of the Russian assistance; its unpatriotic failure to notify the FBI of the Russian intrusion; and the full extent of the campaign’s contacts with Russia. He can also walk through the episodes of obstruction and torpedo Barr’s suggestion that frustration excuses Trump’s conduct.

The Mueller hearing will be viewed extensively by the public. Most, of course, will not have read the 448-page report. Mueller’s testimony will be their introduction to the real narrative and the first debunking of the Trump/Barr cover narrative. Hear the corn popping, as people settle in for a high-drama civics lesson.

The committee should follow Mueller in rapid succession with testimony from as many of the principal fact witnesses behind the report as possible, starting with former White House counsel and self-described “real lawyer” Don McGahn, whose cooperation regarding obstruction is already winning him the Trump bully treatment. From there, the committee should run through the list of White House officials and Trump associates who contributed to the report.

Time’s a wastin.’ The Trump/Barr narrative is festering, infecting the public consciousness, and the 2020 election is only a year-and-a-half away. There will be delays and impediments. The report reveals that fourteen referrals from the Mueller investigation remain with U.S. Attorney offices and we know the identities of the defendants in only two of them. The committee will have to coordinate with those investigations to ensure that it does not step on them.

Mueller Probe / Media

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: Mueller’s report proves why Trump loves Fox News — and why he needs it now more than ever, Margaret Sullivan, April 22, 2019 (print ed.). It’s no secret that Fox News and the Trump administration are deeply entwined: They are the conjoined twins of misinformation. 

So it hardly raised an eyebrow when the president took to Twitter on Thursday to urge everyone to tune in to Fox for Attorney General William P. Barr’s (misleading) prelude to the release of the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. The results were predictable: Fox’s early news coverage was somewhat straight — kept so largely by the presence of Fox’s designated truth-teller, Chris Wallace.

fox news logo SmallThe follow-up coverage and commentary, though, was outlandishly one-sided, led by Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was allowed to spin frenetically for what seemed like endless minutes, offering such gems as “there’s not a single surprise” in the report. “Nothing to see here” was the clear message — nothing but the corrupt investigation itself.

I tuned in to Fox for a while Thursday morning, trying the experiment of using it as my only news source for an hour or two. When I emerged and started reading and watching elsewhere — and looked at the report for myself — I felt like I had returned from beyond the looking glass and was back in the real world.

April 21

 washington post logoWashington Post, How a legal dispute between Mueller and Barr drove the end of the Russia probe, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, April 21, 2019 (print ed.). The special counsel’s decision to not reach a conclusion about whether the president had obstructed justice stumped lawyers and frustrated senior Justice officials.

For nearly two years, the public, Congress and the White House waited to learn if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III would find that President Trump had committed crimes. When the answer was finally revealed, it turned out Mueller didn’t think that was his job at all.

The special counsel ended his investigation last month, pointedly choosing not to reach a conclusion about whether the president had obstructed justice.

In a report of its findings, Mueller’s team said that choice was driven in large part by a long-standing legal opinion at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting president should not be indicted, even if the charges remained sealed.

william barr new oMueller's team concluded that also meant they could not accuse the president of a crime, even in secret internal documents, the report said.

That move surprised everyone, including Attorney General William P. Barr (right) and his senior advisers, according to current and former Justice Department officials. When Mueller presented his findings without reaching a decision about the president, Barr reviewed the evidence and decided that Trump had not obstructed justice.

The unusual ending to the investigation stems from a key legal disagreement between Mueller’s team and Barr — opening the door to further political fights over jonathan turleypresidential power, Justice Department policies and decision-making inside the Trump administration.

Jonathan Turley, left, a law professor at George Washington University, said Mueller’s failure to make a decision on obstruction was “one of the biggest surprises of the report,” and he was still struggling to understand the special counsel’s thought process.

“It doesn’t make any sense, because on collusion, he seemed to be perfectly empowered to reach a conclusion on whether the president committed a crime,” Turley said. “The other problem is that his mandate clearly allowed him to make a decision, and [Justice Department headquarters] had clearly indicated he could make a decision.”

Mueller Follow up

ny times logoNew York Times, How 2020 Democrats Are Gaming Out Trump Impeachment Quandary, Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin, April 21, 2019. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates have responded to the special counsel’s report with tentative remarks about impeaching President Trump. But many feel no pressure to demand it because they do not hear a clamoring for it on the campaign trail.

elizabeth warren cfpbSenator Elizabeth Warren, right, who has worked for months to find traction in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, stepped forward on Friday with a call to arms: President Trump must be impeached.

What followed, generally, was conspicuous silence — and not just from her colleagues in Congress.

After sidestepping the explosive issue of impeachment for months by citing the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, most of the other 17 Democratic presidential candidates have responded to the special counsel’s report with tentative remarks about impeaching Mr. Trump, demands for the democratic donkey logounredacted Mueller findings, calls for further hearings or attempts to simply change the subject.

Anything, that is, to avoid clearly answering the question of whether lawmakers should remove the president from office.

Underpinning the candidates’ calculations are complex sets of short- and long-term incentives. Democratic hopefuls could receive a fund-raising boost by embracing impeachment and energizing liberal donors. But some strategists and lawmakers say that a failed effort would only strengthen Mr. Trump’s re-election chances, allowing him to claim further vindication.

michael cohen abc 2018 12 14

ny times logoNew York Times, How Cohen Turned Against Trump, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Maggie Haberman, April 21, 2019. Michael Cohen, President Trump’s fixer (shown above during an ABC News interview last year), had for months sought “a little loving and respect” and feared his longtime boss had forsaken him. Confidential emails and texts chronicle the undoing of their relationship.

Michael D. Cohen was at a breaking point. He told friends he was suicidal. He insisted to lawyers he would never go to jail. Most of all, he feared that President Trump, his longtime boss, had forsaken him.

“Basically he needs a little loving and respect booster,” one of Mr. Cohen’s legal advisers at the time, Robert J. Costello, wrote in a text message to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lead lawyer. “He is not thinking clearly because he feels abandoned.”

That was last June. The “booster” from Mr. Trump never arrived. And by August, Mr. Cohen’s relationship with him had gone from fraught to hostile, casting a shadow on the Trump presidency and helping drive multiple criminal investigations into the president’s inner circle, including some that continued after the special counsel’s work ended.

ny times logoNew York Times, Five reasons why the undoing of Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen’s relationship matters, William K. Rashbaum, April 21, 2019. Here are five reasons the undoing of their relationship matters.

1) Mr. Cohen implicated the president in a crime. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan effectively characterized Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in the hush money payments, which violated campaign finance laws because they were made to influence the outcome of the election.

2) He assisted criminal investigations into Mr. Trump’s business Mr. Cohen did not enter into a formal cooperation agreement with the Southern District prosecutors, but voluntarily met with them about his knowledge of Mr. Trump’s family, business and inner circle.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Barr tried to exonerate Trump. That’s not how the special counsel rules work, Neal Katyal (right) and Joshua A. Geltzer, April 21, 2019. The attorney neal katyal ogeneral isn’t supposed to be rebutting the special counsel. The redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report made one thing quite clear: Attorney General William Barr has gone out of his way to try to exonerate the president. But Barr’s comments about obstruction of justice have been deeply flawed — and at odds with the spirit of the regulations governing this type of politically sensitive investigation by a special counsel. (One of us, Neal Katyal, drafted those regulations in the late ’90s.)

Mueller noted in the report that his office decided not to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on whether Trump had obstructed justice, because the Justice Department has a policy not to indict a sitting president. But Barr has misleadingly implied that the longstanding policy wasn’t any part of the reason for that decision. That is not the case. Mueller says right at the outset of the report’s second volume, where Barr wouldn’t have missed it, that he felt bound by that policy: “We determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.”

So Trump’s claim, based on Barr’s spin, that the Mueller report exonerates him is flatly untrue. Mueller said, in effect, Because I’m investigating a sitting president, I cannot indict him, and therefore I won’t call him a criminal even if he’s guilty as sin. He also explicitly wrote that if “the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state . . . However, we are unable to reach that judgment.” Mueller couldn’t indict the president, but he could have cleared him. He didn’t.

Barr shouldn’t be offering a rebuttal. He should be offering the report to Congress — and then leaving it to lawmakers to determine what comes next.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion: Trump's Attempt to Weaponize NSA Against His Enemies, Wayne Madsen, April 21, 2019. A few weeks after Donald Trump's inauguration he blasted the US National Security Agency (NSA), falsely claiming the signals intelligence agency leaked classified information to the media. In February 2017, Trump tweeted: "Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?)... Just like Russia." It was Trump's second public attack on NSA. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump accused NSA of withholding intercepted copies of his opponent Hillary Clinton's emails." Trump ranted, "Obviously they [NSA] don't want to get them... they're protecting her, they're coddling her."

Trump displayed for the world to see his ignorance about the role and mission of the NSA. Even after the agency's intra-Five Eyes signals intelligence alliance warts were publicly exposed by the Edward Snowden leaks, Trump was making wild accusations about NSA that have only been the fodder for Hollywood movies like "Enemy Of The State." "Mercury Rising," "Sneakers," and "Good Will Hunting."

richard nixon headshot CustomThe recently-released heavily-redacted report by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller on foreign involvement in the 2016 presidential election contains a startling revelation: not since the Nixon administration has a US president flagrantly attempted to use the NSA to involve itself in a domestic law enforcement matter in pursuit of an Oval Office cover-up. According to Volume II of the "Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, President Trump attempted to involve the NSA in the FBI's then-ongoing investigation into Trump's campaign and his possible illegal activities as president.

Trump's actions to misuse a US intelligence agency to protect him from criminal liability is an impeachable offense. The precedence was decided by the US House of Representatives in Article II of its impeachment resolution against Richard Nixon, right. The House found that, in the case of Nixon, he abused his office by misusing federal agencies in violation of their regulations. The article states that Nixon "repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposes of these agencies."

April 20

Mueller Fallout: What's Next?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump seethes after Mueller report relies on notes from White House aides, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa, April 20, 2019 (print ed.). Much of President Trump’s ire was directed at former White House counsel Donald McGahn, whose ubiquity in the footnotes of the special counsel’s report laid bare his cooperation in chronicling Trump's actions.

oenearthlogorob kallOpEdNews, Opinion: Aggressive House Trump Investigation Only Morally Effective Option, Rob Kall (OpEdNews founder and publisher, shown at right), April 20,2019. The Mueller report and other investigations raise accusations and questions that the House must address.

Let's start with one conclusion. The Senate will not impeach Trump with Mitch McConnell in charge. But that was the same assumption made about Richard Nixon, that there were not enough votes in the senate to impeach him. Nonetheless, Democrats had the guts and integrity to proceed to investigate the serious allegations that came out of Watergate. Eventually, the truths that emerged were enough to force Nixon to resign. And it wasn't the Democrats who forced him. The Republicans did. And it was the Republicans who pardoned the despicable criminal.

Let me say it again, to be crystal clear. the narrative of Nixon and Watergate was very similar, early on, to where we stand today. People did not believe that the Senate would follow through to find a verdict of guilty if the house started the process of impeachment. Nonetheless, the Democrats proceeded to investigate Nixon until the findings revealed such a miasma of criminality and corruption that the Republicans could not evade the argument against Nixon. They took the right step of telling Nixon to leave but then took the wrong, immoral step of pardoning him. That set the country careening in an immoral, amoral direction for almost fifty years.

Now, the Democrats are faced with a president who is guilty of far more, with many of his appointees and those who have worked for him already guilty and sentenced for crimes, and over a dozen more secret cases under way. It comes down to two things for the Democrats, integrity and the courage to do do the right thing.

The right thing is to aggressively continue where the Mueller investigation left off. I don't believe it matters whether they call it an impeachment hearing or a corruption hearing. They have an oath-bound obligation to pursue the truth and the facts. To start with they have an obligation to get the complete, un-filtered, un-redacted Mueller report, including all supporting documents. If Barr refuses to deliver it they must do everything within their means to get it, including arresting and imprisoning Barr. They must work with state judiciary agencies. They must do everything they can to get Trump's tax records, to ascertain whether he is guilty of violating the Emoluments clause.

If they do not go into this full-throttle, they will be guilty of failing to uphold their oaths of office. They will be guilty of cowardice. The centrist, fake progressive leaders of the house majority, Pelosi and Hoyer will embrace the Obama-Clinton Democrat mantle of can't-do-ism and do-nothing-ism, the "look forward not backward" approach that allowed the impeachable crimes of the previous Bush-Cheney administration that House Judiciary Chair John Conyers enumerated in great detail.

michelle goldberg thumbMichelle Goldberg (right) writes, in her NYTImes article, Mueller Did His Job. Now It's the Democrats' Turn, which I must confess is what spurred me to write this article,

"It's a national disgrace that Trump sleeps in the White House instead of a federal prison cell, but it has been a while since I had any expectation that the special counsel Robert Mueller's findings, many of which were finally released to the public on Thursday, could set things right."

Then Goldberg talks about Mueller, a decent man of integrity, the closest thing to Walter Cronkite we have in these times fake news and distrust. She describes how the Repubicans are tolerating all this corruption and ignoring the profoundly serious allegations and findings of the Mueller report. Then she concludes,

"Democrats, conversely, have facts on their side, but not conviction. They are reluctant to begin an impeachment inquiry into Trump because majorities, in polls, don't support it, and there is no Republican buy-in. Whether or not this is politically wise, failing to impeach would be a grave abdication. If you want people to believe that the misdeeds enumerated in the Mueller report are serious, you have to act like it.

To not even try to impeach Trump is to collaborate in the Trumpian fiction that he has done nothing impeachable. And if Congress won't take the lead in condemning the president's lawlessness and demanding justice, one of the Democrats running for the presidential nomination should. Mueller has given us the truth of what Trump has done, and in that sense the hokey faith the Resistance put in him was not misplaced. But right now only a political fight can make that truth matter."

And it gets worse. Another NYTimes Op-Ed proposes that there is a "national security nightmare... that is the missing piece of the Mueller report." The article explains that Mueller inherited a counterintelligence operation:

"President Trump may claim "exoneration" on a narrowly defined criminal coordination charge. But a counterintelligence investigation can yield something even more important: an intelligence assessment of how likely it is that someone in this case, the president is acting, wittingly or unwittingly, under the influence of or in collaboration with a foreign power. Was Donald Trump a knowing or unknowing Russian asset, used in some capacity to undermine our democracy and national security?"

The Democrat party must take action, even if it means an uprising that takes over the leadership of the party, taking it away from morally compromised Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer, who have a decades-long history keeping impeachment... and justice "off the table." I cringe when I see new photos of Pelosi and see a failed leader, a bully who refuses to find the courage and integrity to get the oath-required job done.

David Swanson, who worked closely with former judiciary chair Conyers on George W. Bush impeachment efforts, provides, in his article, The 20 Surest Paths to Impeachment, a roadmap that should be followed.

The cowards and facile politicians may choose to take the easier route of poll-driven avoidance of impeachment. And I'm not saying that the House leadership should use the term impeachment at all. But they must aggressively begin investigating every one of the issues that Mueller's investigation and the counterintelligence investigation have raised, as well as the legitimate issues that Swanson presents.

April 19

More on Mueller Report

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Live Coverage & Analysis, Staff reporting, April 19, 2019. Redacted Mueller Report released here. Selected MSNBC print and videos on April 18 below:

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Details Multiple Contacts With Russians and Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Inquiry, Mark Mazzetti, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). Cites Legal Constraints in Declining to Charge, but Does Not Exonerate. Robert S. Mueller III revealed a frantic, monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, cataloging in a report released on Thursday the attempts by Mr. Trump to escape an inquiry that imperiled his presidency from the start.

The much-anticipated report laid out how a team of prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, wrestled with whether the president’s actions added up to an indictable offense of obstruction of justice for a sitting president. They ultimately decided not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but pointedly declined to exonerate him.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Mr. Mueller inherited a sweeping inquiry 23 months ago into whether Mr. Trump or any of his aides had coordinated with the Russian government’s campaign to sabotage the presidential election. The report found numerous contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russians in the months before and after the election — meetings in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton — but said there was “insufficient evidence” to establish that there had been a criminal conspiracy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller rejects idea that Trump is shielded from obstruction laws, Staff report, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). Report suggests investigators found abundant evidence that Trump sought to undermine probe.

The special counsel rejected arguments advanced by the president’s lawyers that he is shielded from obstruction of justice laws by his unique constitutional role and powers. Follow along for the latest findings as a team of Post reporters dissects Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

President Trump, upon first learning of the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, cursed and declared, “this is the end of my presidency,” according to the redacted 400-page report by Mueller released Thursday by the Justice Department.

The detailed document depicts a Trump campaign that expected to “benefit electorally” from information stolen and released by Russia and a president who subsequently engaged in several alarming actions, including seeking the ouster of former officials and ordering a memo that would clear his name.

The release of the report followed a news conference at which Attorney General William P. Barr exonerated Trump, saying neither he nor his campaign colluded with Russia and that none of Trump’s actions rose to the level of obstruction of justice, despite Mueller leaving that question unanswered in his report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller’s report paints a damning portrait of Trump’s presidency, Dan Balz, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The report shows a pattern of behavior outside the norms of the Oval Office, even if Barr concludes there was no obstruction of justice.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Impeachable -- Trump's attempted domestic re-weaponization of NSA, Wayne Madsen, April 19, 2019 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Not since the Nixon administration has a U.S. president flagrantly attempted to use the National Security Agency (NSA) to involve itself in a domestic law enforcement matter in pursuit of an Oval Office cover-up....Trump’s action to misuse a U.S. intelligence agency to protect him from criminal liability is an impeachable offense, as previously decided by the U.S. House of Representatives in Article II of its impeachment resolution against Nixon.

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: Congress, We're Looking at You, Bill Yeomans (right, Senior Justice Fellow at Alliance for Justice), April 19, 2019.  The release of the redacted Mueller report alliance for justice logospawned a gaggle of stories that each deserves extended treatment; the willingness of Bill Barr to lie on Trump’s behalf in acceptance of his role as Trump’s protector, rather than Attorney General of the United States; the detailed account of Russia’s assault on our elections; the Trump campaign’s embrace of the Russian assault and its failure to mention anything about it to the FBI or other authorities; the unfathomable culture of lying and deceit that permeated the Trump campaign and his White House; the continual elevation of self interest above country; and the extraordinary efforts of a desperate president to kill the investigation into all of this. But the country now faces one overriding question: Where do we go from here?

Trump and his supporters are working hard to spin the conclusion of the Mueller investigation as a victory, despite all the criminal charges, pleas, and convictions, and despite the 400-page narrative that paints a devastating portrait of Trump and the band of incompetent dissemblers and grifters with whom he surrounded himself. Trump’s gamble is that people will accept the headlines he churns out with support from Barr, congressional supporters, and Fox News. Indeed, few people are likely to wade through the details of the report.

A larger lesson arising from the details of this episode is that Trump is a president desperate to destroy all checks on his authority. Without the threat arising from the Mueller investigation hanging over his head, he will feel unleashed. The signs are already there.

Trump and his administration have demonstrated their intent to resist congressional oversight, including requests for information and subpoenas. Congressional oversight is essential to the proper functioning of our constitutional system and, in particular, to checking presidential power. It is the way Congress ensures that the laws it passes are enforced properly and the money it appropriates is being spent as intended. The Supreme Court has held that the scope of congressional oversight is broad, encompassing any matter that falls within Congress’s power to legislate. It is a principal component in the system of checks and balances that makes our government of separated powers work.

djt handwave fileTrump wants none of it. It opens his personal conduct to scrutiny. It also restrains his ability to govern by whim, spite and personal desire. Having to answer to Congress curtails his authoritarian, strongman instincts. It impairs his ability to pursue his radical agenda.

If Trump stonewalls Congress, conflicts over subpoenas are likely to go to the courts. Trump, of course, has installed judges at a record pace, many of whom are unqualified and almost all of whom are ideological extremists who are likely to enable Trump’s resistance to oversight. Trump’s remaking of the courts – nearly a fifth of judges have been appointed by Trump – will dilute the ability of courts to restrain his power across the board.

The prospect of Trump unleashed is a principal reason why Congress must move rapidly toward impeachment. Congress must reimpose the threat of accountability. Whether or not impeachment results in his removal from office, the process will enlighten the public, which is unlikely to read Mueller’s report, but will watch with rapt attention as key participants in the Trump campaign and administration testify at televised hearings. That enlightenment may change the dynamic surrounding his removal. Admittedly, the power of Fox News and extreme partisanship pose high hurdles, but failure even to try will be an abdication of Congress’s constitutional responsibility to hold an unfit president accountable.

At this stage, the very real question looms; if Congress does not impeach Trump, is there anything left of the impeachment power? The Mueller report demonstrates that Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct that is far worse than anything Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton dared attempt.

Now that the report is out, Democratic fears of impeachment appear overblown. They misread history. The failed Republican effort to remove Clinton was followed by the election of George W. Bush. The effort to remove Trump is thoroughly consistent with – and indeed may even facilitate -- a Democratic victory in the 2020 presidential contest. Indeed, failure to move toward impeachment runs the risk of alienating Democrats’ base and making the party look weak and indecisive.

Uncertain Democrats should note the chorus of fearful Republican pundits warning Democrats that they would be foolhardy to impeach Trump. Remember, they do not have your best interests in mind.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Subpoena Full Report, and All Evidence, Nicholas Fandos, April 19, 2019. The subpoena escalates a fight with the attorney general over what material Congress is entitled to see from the investigation. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee formally issued a subpoena on Friday demanding that the Justice Department hand over to Congress an unredacted version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and all of the evidence underlying it by May 1.

jerrold nadler o SmallThe subpoena, one of the few issued thus far by House Democrats, escalates a fight with Attorney General William P. Barr over what material Congress is entitled to see from the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York (right), asked for all evidence, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence.

“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates. It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Dishonesty, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, April 18, 2019. The report by Robert S. Mueller III shows a hotbed of conflict defined by a president who lies and tries to get his staff to lie for him. At one juncture after another, President Trump gave in to anger in ways that turned aides into witnesses against him.

As President Trump met with advisers in the Oval Office in May 2017 to discuss replacements for the F.B.I. director he had just fired, Attorney General Jeff Sessions slipped out of the room to take a call.

When he came back, he gave Mr. Trump bad news: Robert S. Mueller III had just been appointed as a special counsel to take over the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and any actions by the president to impede it.

Mr. Trump slumped in his chair. “Oh, my God,” he said. “This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

It has not been the end of his presidency, but it has come to consume it. Although the resulting two-year investigation ended without charges against Mr. Trump, Mr. Mueller’s report painted a damning portrait of a White House dominated by a president desperate to thwart the inquiry only to be restrained by aides equally desperate to thwart his orders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Paranoia, lies and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The 448-page report reveals a vivid portrait of a president and his aides on the brink of obstructing justice.

washington post logoWashington Post, Report lays out obstruction evidence against the president, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III details 10 “episodes” of potential obstruction of justice by President Trump, alternating between dense legal analysis and jarring scenes of presidential scheming.

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: What Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said, Salvador Rizzo, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). As it turns out, the attorney general (right) took liberties in describing the results of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Offers from Russia were not reported or forcefully rejected by Trump campaign, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian and Rachel Weiner, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The special counsel painted a portrait of a campaign that was intrigued by overtures from Russian officials and business executives.

April 18

Mueller Report

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Live Coverage & Analysis, Staff reporting, April 18, 2019. Redacted Mueller Report released here. Selected MSNBC print and videos on April 18 below:

ny times logoNew York Times, The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, April 18, 2019. Mr. Trump was not exonerated. Aides defied his orders to sabotage the inquiry, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, Here are seven takeaways:

1. Trump did try to sabotage the investigation. His staff defied him.
2. So many lies. So many changed stories.
3. Fake news? Not so much.
4. No obstruction? Not so fast.
5. Evading an F.B.I. interview proved a successful strategy.
6. No conclusive evidence of conspiracy, but lots of reason to investigate.
7. Imagine reading this report cold.

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

Above the Law, Robert Mueller Didn’t Finish The Job, And We’ll Never Know Why, Elie Mystal, April 18, 2019. The Mueller report treats Trump and his family with kid gloves.
If you ever have the opportunity to choose who will prosecute you for you potential crimes, ask to be prosecuted by Robert Mueller. Apparently, he will spend half of his time making your legal arguments for you, and will not try to secure your testimony under oath if it looks like you’ll give him too much trouble.

I have read through (well, scrolled through) the entire Mueller report, and I am deeply dissatisfied with the thoroughness of Mueller’s investigation. Yes, yes, I know, I’m supposed to parrot the line about how “thorough” this investigation was because… it took a lot of time and the report is very long.

Big whoop. For all the time spent on it, and the obvious meticulous dedication to the cause, Mueller did not finish the job. Maybe he was pressured by new Attorney General William Barr. Maybe the constant drumbeat of “wrap it up” coming from the Trump administration wore him down. Maybe we’ll never know. But the 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s potential obstruction of justice punted investigative functions to Congress that his office should have completed before turning over his report.

And that’s because Mueller declined to seek subpoenas to compel testimony from Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, or Eric Trump. Mueller was willing to put the screws to everybody else. Paul Manafort is in jail; Michael Cohen is going to jail. Michael Flynn is going to jail; Robert Gates is going to jail; Roger Stone will most likely be going to jail. Many of these people are going to jail because they lied to Robert Mueller. But the First Family is not going to jail. And it’s not because they are innocent. It’s because Mueller refused to ask them a damned question.

As has been widely understood — and now confirmed with the release of the report — Mueller made the decision that his office did not have the authority to charge President Donald Trump with a crime. That’s… a questionable legal conclusion. I can more or less accept it on the issue of conspiracy with Russia to influence the election. But when it comes to obstruction of justice, I just can’t. Literally, what is the point of having an “independent,” “non-political” appointee conduct an investigation into the President if only political appointees and elected officials can actually do anything about it? It’s like hiring a restaurant critic who isn’t allowed to eat the food.

 

william barr image by donkehotey dmca

Attorney General William P. Barr (image by Donkehotey via DCMA)

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr says he disagreed with some of Mueller’s theories on obstruction claim, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, April 18, 2019. But Attorney General William P. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein accepted the special counsel’s “legal framework” as they analyzed the case. A redacted version of the report is set to be released today.

• Transcript: The attorney general’s full remarks on the Mueller report

washington post logoWashington Post, Report examines 10 instances of potential obstruction, Barr says, Staff report, April 18, 2019. The attorney general also said that he has no objection to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testifying before Congress, which top Democratic lawmakers called for today.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him, George T. Conway III (right, a lawyer in New York prominent in conservative george conway twitterlegal circles and married to President Trump's senior communications adviser Kellyanne Conway), April 18, 2019. So it turns out that, indeed, President Trump was not exonerated at all, and certainly not “totally” or “completely,” as he claimed.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III didn’t reach a conclusion about whether Trump committed crimes of obstruction of justice — in part because, while a sitting president, Trump can’t be prosecuted under long-standing Justice Department directives, and in part because of “difficult issues” raised by “the President’s actions and intent.” Those difficult issues involve, among other things, the potentially tricky interplay between the criminal obstruction laws and the president’s constitutional authority, and the difficulty in proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

Still, the special counsel’s report is damning. Mueller couldn’t say, with any “confidence,” that the president of the United States is not a criminal. He said, stunningly, that “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Mueller did not so state.

That’s especially damning because the ultimate issue shouldn’t be — and isn’t — whether the president committed a criminal act. As I wrote not long ago, Americans should expect far more than merely that their president not be provably a criminal. In fact, the Constitution demands it.

 william barr prin dep asst ag edward ocallaghan rod rosenstein april 18 2 2019 Small

Attorney General William Barr, center, flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan of the National Security Division at the Justice Department news conference on April 18, 2019 (screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: William Barr just did Trump another huge favor, Aaron Blake, April 18, 2019. When Attorney General William P. Barr announced he was going to hold a news conference before the release of the Mueller report Thursday, there was instant pushback. How can the media ask questions about a report it hasn’t seen? Would this just be a whole bunch of pre-spin from a man already accused of being too friendly to the president who appointed him?

Barr’s performance did nothing to argue against those allegations.

In a lengthy opening statement, Barr found just about every way possible to say that there was no coordination, cooperation or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also said Trump was right about “no collusion,” expanding the Mueller report’s clearing of Trump to a more nebulous term with little legal significance.

But perhaps more importantly, on obstruction of justice, he seemed to go to bat for Trump personally, offering a sympathetic take on the president’s state of mind and cooperation.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House and Justice Dept. Discussed Mueller Report Before Release, Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, April 18, 2019 (print edition). Some of President Trump’s advisers are concerned about whether he will retaliate against them if the report reveals them as sources of damaging details.

Not all of Robert S. Mueller III’s findings will be news to President Trump when they are released Thursday.

Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.

william barr new oA sense of paranoia was taking hold among some of Mr. Trump’s aides, some of whom fear his backlash more than the findings themselves, the people said. The report might make clear which of Mr. Trump’s current and former advisers spoke to the special counsel, how much they said and how much damage they did to the president — providing a kind of road map for retaliation.

The discussions between Justice Department officials and White House lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions by Attorney General William P. Barr since he received Mr. Mueller’s findings late last month.

April 17

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: New witness steps forward revealing details of Epstein's Manhattan underage orgies, Wayne Madsen, April 17, 2019 (subscription required). A new witness has appeared in the ongoing legal drama playing out between victims of billionaire Wall Street financier and Donald Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein recruited Roberts while she was working as a towel girl at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, located close to Epstein's Palm Beach estate. Epstein was and may continue to be a member of Mar-a-Lago. Mar-a-Lago's membership lists are kept confidential.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Mueller Report Will Be Released on Thursday. Here’s a Guide, Sharon LaFraniere, April 17, 2019. After 23 months, the results of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are set to be released to the public. The nearly 400-page report is likely to tell us about Russia’s 2016 election interference and President Trump’s efforts to control federal inquiries.

After 23 months, 500 search warrants, 2,300 subpoenas and a string of indictments, the results of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will be public on Thursday in a nearly 400-page report. The treatise is likely to add significantly to our understanding of Russia’s 2016 election interference and President Trump’s efforts to control federal inquiries into the matter.

Attorney General William P. Barr said last month that the special counsel did not find that anyone associated with the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to illegally influence the election. He also said there was insufficient evidence that Mr. Trump illegally obstructed justice. But Americans have been eagerly waiting to hear from Mr. Mueller’s investigators in their own words.

Whether you have followed every step of the investigation or are tuning in after months of avoiding the headlines, here is a primer for the report’s release.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lawyers, officials plan to resist subpoenas over his policies and finances, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey and Rachael Bade, April 17, 2019 (print ed.). Their move to defy House Democrats’ requests for information increases the likelihood of a protracted legal fight that could test the power of congressional subpoenas.

washington post logoWashington Post, On Capitol Hill, some Trump officials appear to be testifying for an audience of one, Seung Min Kim, April 17, 2019 (print ed.). Cabinet officials and other Trump appointees have upended the normally staid congressional hearings with performances that, at times, appear to be designed for the viewer in chief.

washington post logoharry litman msnbc screenshotWashington Post, Opinion: If Congress wants the unredacted Mueller report, here’s how to get it, Harry Litman (shown in a screenshot), April 17, 2019 (print ed.). The Justice Department has announced that it will deliver special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report to Congress and the public on Thursday morning, but with redactions of grand jury information (and other categories of information) that will leave innumerable gaps in our understanding of what Mueller uncovered. Many commentators have suggested that Congress’s only mechanism for securing an unredacted report is to launch a formal impeachment inquiry — a blind step forward with great political risks for congressional Democrats and the party overall.

That unpleasant choice looked to be the upshot of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s recent 2-to-1 decision in McKeever v. Barr, which held that the courts lack “inherent power” to order disclosure of grand jury material and instead must hew to the six exceptions describing when such material can be released — exceptions that are delineated in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

One of those six is disclosure “preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.” And while it may seem anomalous, several courts have held — and the D.C. Circuit in McKeever expressly affirmed — that “judicial proceeding” within the meaning of the rule encompasses an impeachment inquiry by Congress.

Justice Department log circularIt suggested that the House would be entitled to all the materials — unredacted — only if it first launched a formal impeachment inquiry. And because the Democratic leadership seems loath, for political reasons, to take that step, the prospects for proceeding under that exception — the only known avenue for procuring the unredacted report — looked stalemated.

But that’s not correct. In fact, Congress has immediate recourse to seek the unredacted report pursuant to the ”judicial proceeding” exception, without having to initiate an impeachment inquiry.

bill clintonHow do we know? Well, for starters, we need look no further than the Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton (right) and the succeeding impeachment proceedings in Congress. In September 1998, before the House had initiated an impeachment inquiry, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr sought and received from federal district court an order to provide to Congress his report, including voluminous grand jury materials. The court’s order granting the request provided expressly that it constituted an order for purposes of the “judicial proceeding” exception in the federal rules.

It was only after digesting Starr’s report, and based upon the report, that the House decided to initiate an impeachment proceeding.

The necessary conclusion of the Starr precedent is that “preliminary to" covers circumstances in which Congress seeks a report to determine in the first place whether to launch impeachment proceedings. It follows that the House needn’t first launch a formal impeachment inquiry to get the unredacted report.

The attorney general and Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, have suggested that nearly everything about Starr’s report is irrelevant to current circumstances because Starr was an independent counsel operating under a different statutory scheme than did Mueller. As, of course, he was.

But so what? The court’s express holding in response to the Starr motion was that its order applied to Rule 6(e); otherwise put, the transmission of grand jury material was proper because Congress needed it to determine whether to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry. It is difficult to see how Collins, Barr or the Justice Department could make a tenable argument to the contrary.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has completely incoherent late night meltdown about how much he now hates Fox News, Bill Palmer, April 17, 2019. Donald Trump has suddenly become enraged about Bernie Sanders – not because he has anything bad to say about Bernie, and not necessarily because he thinks Bernie will even be the 2020 nominee, but because Bernie did a town hall on Trump’s favorite channel Fox News, and it went fairly well. That alone is enough to set off a malignant narcissist like Trump, and sure enough, he finally exploded about it on Tuesday evening.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, Donald Trump posted this bizarre tweet, which gave away just how insecure he’s feeling about the whole thing: “Many Trump Fans & Signs were outside of the Fox News Studio last night in the now thriving (Thank you President Trump) Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the interview with Crazy Bernie Sanders. Big complaints about not being let in-stuffed with Bernie supporters. What’s with Fox News?” Aw, Trump got his feelings hurt because Fox isn’t kissing his butt as thoroughly as it used to.

Then Trump went on to inexplicably demand that Sanders pay more taxes. This was even as Trump continues to try to delay the Treasury Department’s inevitable release of Trump’s tax returns, because all kinds of dirty secrets are obviously lurking in there. But then Trump decided for some reason that this would be a good thing to tweet: “I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!”

The real upshot here is that Trump is very jealous that Fox News isn’t as thoroughly in his corner as it used to be. Trump is as insecure as he is incoherent.

April 16

washington post logoWashington Post,Redacted Mueller report expected to be released Thursday, Justice Dept. says, Devlin Barrett, April 16, 2019 (print ed). The report has been the subject of heated debate since Attorney General William P. Barr notified lawmakers that the special counsel had completed his probe.

April 13

washington post logoirs logoWashington Post, House Democrats give IRS until April 23 to turn over Trump tax returns, Jeff Stein​, April 13, 2019.  Legal experts have suggested an outright denial of their request by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin could be followed by subpoenas or a lawsuit in federal court. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) on Saturday sent a two-page letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig rebuffing Mnuchin’s statement earlier this week that Treasury would miss House Democrats’ initial April 10 deadline for the returns.

Mnuchin’s concerns “lack merit,” Neal wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats to subpoena accounting firm for Trump’s financial records, Rachael Bade, April 13, 2019. Lawmakers expect the Trump administration to elijah cummings otake their fight over the president’s IRS documents to the courts — so they have sought other avenues to learn about his business practices.

A top House investigative committee plans to subpoena President Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for Trump’s financial statements on Monday, according to a memo to committee members obtained by The Washington Post.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (right) on Friday notified panel members of his intention to subpoena the company after it refused to hand over Trump’s financial documents, citing laws and rules that require compulsory measures from the panel.

washington post logoICE logoWashington Post, Trump’s plan to send detainees to ‘sanctuary cities’ may be costly, illegal, Maria Sacchetti, April 13, 2019. Moving thousands of immigration detainees to Democratic strongholds would require massive transportation infrastructure. Sanctuary city mayors waved it off as a bluff.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Assails Omar With Video of Sept. 11 Attacks, Maggie Haberman, April 13, 2019. President President Trump on Friday targeted Representative Ilhan Omar for remarks she made during a speech on civil rights and Muslims in America with a graphic video featuring the burning World Trade Center towers and other images from Sept. 11, 2001, that he tweeted to millions of his followers.

ilhan omar oThe Twitter post from the president stoked and amplified a controversy that has been a focus of conservative news outlets, which have sought to elevate Ms. Omar (right) — a Minnesota Democrat and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress — as a political target, as Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign begins in earnest.

At issue were remarks that Ms. Omar made last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There, she gave a speech in which she addressed lingering fear directed at Muslims, and the rights Muslims have to speak out about being viewed with suspicion.

During the speech, she said that Muslims had “lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it.” She added that the council was created after the Sept. 11 attacks “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” (The Council on American-Islamic Relations was actually founded in 1994.)

April 13

Federal Judge Blasts Trump

carlton reeves university of virginia sanjay suchak

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves argued for federal courts’ need to defend marginalized groups at a University of Virginia School of Law event on April 11. (University of Virginia School of Law)

Washington Post, You can hear the Klan’s lawyers’: Federal judge likens Trump’s attacks on judiciary to KKK, Reis Thebault, April 13, 2019. Federal judge compares Trump’s attacks on judiciary to KKK, segregationist attacks on black judges. President Trump has attacked the judiciary like few U.S. leaders before him, disparaging judges and their rulings as “dangerous,” “horrible” and “a complete and total disgrace.” Some of his supporters and fellow Republicans applaud and parrot him, but U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said he hears something sinister: echoes of a time when the Ku Klux Klan and the architects of the Jim Crow South attacked the courts for chipping away at segregation and racism.

In a speech to the University of Virginia School of Law on Thursday, Reeves criticized Trump’s aggressive responses to his administration’s losses in court and the lack of diversity in his judicial appointments — an extremely rare rebuke from a sitting federal judge. Though Reeves, whose court is in Jackson, Miss., never mentioned Trump by name, he quoted the president more than a dozen times and compared him to a stridently racist Alabama governor.

“When the executive branch calls our courts and their work ‘stupid,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘ridiculous,’ ‘incompetent,’ ‘a laughingstock,’” Reeves said, drawing from Trump’s Twitter feed, “you can hear the slurs and threats of executives like George Wallace, echoing into the present.”

Take Trump’s insults of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, Reeves said. Trump said Curiel should not hear a lawsuit against Trump University because Trump’s hard-line immigration polices presented a conflict of interest for Curiel, who is of Mexican descent.

“I know what I heard when a federal judge was called ‘very biased and unfair’ because he is ‘of Mexican heritage.’ When that judge’s ethnicity was said to prevent his issuing ‘fair rulings,' when that judge was called a 'hater’ simply because he is Latino,” Reeves said, “I heard those words and I did not know if it was 1967 or 2017.”

The White House declined to comment on the speech, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News. Reeves, through his law clerk, said he wouldn’t make any further comments.

Half a century later, Reeves said, Americans are “eyewitnesses to the third great assault on our judiciary.”

“When politicians attack courts as ‘dangerous,’ ‘political,’ and guilty of ‘egregious overreach,’ you can hear the Klan’s lawyers, assailing officers of the court across the South,” he said.

carlton reevesIt’s not that courts should be exempt from criticism, Reeves (shown in a file photo) said. He maintained that debating judicial decisions ultimately improves the courts.

“But the slander and falsehoods thrown at courts today are not those of a critic seeking to improve the judiciary’s search for truth,” he said. “They are words of an attacker, seeking to distort and twist that search toward falsehood.”

Trump’s broadsides may be loud, but it’s his appointments that may end up having the most lasting effect, Reeves said. As of April 1, more than three-quarters of confirmed appellate and district court nominees were white, according to Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning advocacy group. More than 90 percent were male.

“That’s not what America looks like,” Reeves said. “That’s not even what the legal profession looks like. . . . There is no excuse for this exclusion of minority experiences from our courts.”

Judges, especially at the federal level, typically try to eschew partisan tangles, particularly with presidents.

When Trump was a candidate, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the New York Times that she “can’t imagine what this place would be . . . with Donald Trump as our president.”

“For the country, it could be four years,” she said. “For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

Days later, Ginsburg apologized, calling her comments “ill-advised.”

Reeves, however, has drawn national attention before. In 2018, he issued a strongly worded decision striking down Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, chastising the state for choosing to “pass a law it knew was unconstitutional.”

In 2015, Reeves gave another stirring speech, that time a 2,500-word address from the bench, aimed at three white men who were sentenced in the killing of a black man — a hate crime, he said, that in the past would have been written off as “acceptable racially inspired pranks.” Instead he handed down sentences between seven and 50 years.

Reeves gave his speech Thursday as he accepted the university’s Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, one of its highest awards. He began by addressing the third U.S. president’s complicated history — a mix of “genius,” “curiosity” and “industry,” along with well-documented racism.

“I must stand up and speak about that pairing,” he said. “How corrosive it has been since the days of Jefferson, who we all agree, was a man of his time. How often that pairing has been embraced throughout our history, by men of their times. And why we must defend against its poison when spewed today, by men of our time.”

Trump Watch

April 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Russian effort to target Sanders supporters — and help elect Trump, Michael Kranish, April 12, 2019. The effort to target Bernie Sanders supporters has been a lesser-noted part of the Russian interference story. That strategy could receive new attention with the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s bernie sanders buttonreport.

After Bernie Sanders lost his primary campaign for president against Hillary Clinton in 2016, a Twitter account called Red Louisiana News reached out to his supporters to help sway the general election. “Conscious Bernie Sanders supporters already moving towards the best candidate Trump! #Feel the Bern #Vote Trump 2016,” the account tweeted.

The tweet was not actually from Louisiana, according to an analysis by Clemson University researchers. Instead, it was one of thousands of accounts identified as based in Russia, part of a cloaked effort to persuade supporters of the Vermont senator to elect Trump. “Bernie Sanders says his message resonates with Republicans,” said another Russian tweet.

washington post logoWashington Post, W. Samuel Patten sentenced to probation after steering Ukrainian money to Trump inaugural, Spencer S. Hsu, April 12, 2019. An American political consultant whose guilty plea marked the first confirmation that illegal foreign money was used to help fund Donald Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to probation Friday by a federal judge who cited his cooperation with U.S. prosecutors.

sam patten file headshot guilty plea 2018W. Samuel Patten, 47 (shown in a file photo), in August admitted steering $50,000 from a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician to Trump’s committee in an investigation spun off from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Patten acknowledged he was helped by a Russian national who is a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the case was referred to prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington and the Justice Department’s national security division.

In sparing Patten from prison, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson (right) accepted prosecutors’ request for leniency and noted no federal sentencing guideline directly applies to his offense of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Patten’s defense sought amy berman jacksonprobation citing the substantial assistance he provided in several ongoing, undisclosed investigations.

He was sentenced to three years of probation. 500 hours of community service and fined $5,000. Patten’s offenses were “not a technicality, and not an oversight,” Jackson said in court, but serious offenses calculated to influence public policy and opinion in the United States for a foreign government “without telling the American people that it was those very Ukrainians paying you to do the talking.”

Patten “earned the trust of the government and became a reliable and valuable resource” for Mueller’s Russia investigation and prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office, Patten’s attorney Stuart A. Sears said in sentencing papers.

 washington post logoivanka trump twitter portraitWashington Post, ‘She’s very good with numbers’: Trump says he considered daughter Ivanka to lead the World Bank, John Wagner, April 12, 2019. President Trump considered nominating his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, to be president of the World Bank in part because “she’s very good with numbers,” according to a new interview published Friday.

Speaking to the Atlantic, Trump lavished praise on his daughter, a 37-year-old White House adviser (shown in her Twitter photo), and suggested she would be suitable for other administration positions, including U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“She’s a natural diplomat,” Trump said. “She would’ve been great at the United Nations, as an example.”

Asked why he didn’t nominate her, Trump replied: “If I did, they’d say nepotism, when it would’ve had nothing to do with nepotism. But she would’ve been incredible.”

April 11

Trump Probes

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation/commentary: Is William Barr a "peripheral third party" in the Mueller report? Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, syndicated columnist, author), william barr new oApril 11, 2019 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Attorney General William Barr told the House Appropriations Committee that the 400-page report by Robert Mueller on the 2016 Trump campaign’s foreign connections is being redacted of all information dealing with grand jury hearings, information that would reveal intelligence sources or methods, information on other current investigations, and information that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and representational interests of peripheral third parties.”

Barr may have a major conflict-of-interest in the last category. While many pundits are viewing “peripheral third parties” as Donald Trump daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, the category of third parties might include Barr himself.

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has made the mistake of awakening a monster, Bill Palmer, April 11, 2019. Here’s what someone once said about Nancy Pelosi: “She’ll cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding.” That quote came from Pelosi’s own daughter. The current Speaker of the House is so politically savvy, calm, and collected, she can do a lot of damage to her opponents while smiling the entire time. Here’s the thing. Pelosi is no longer smiling. Not even close.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House earlier this year, she said that impeaching Donald Trump at that time wasn’t worth it, and she’d wait until the Mueller probe and/or other investigations turned up more about Trump’s crimes. It was a wise move. If she’d pushed forward with impeachment three months ago, it would have gotten through the House but certainly not the Senate, and all it would have done was make Trump more emboldened.

So Pelosi has held her fire, preferring to let the House committee chairs push forward with their probes, all while waiting for Trump to hand her an opening. He just did. Trump’s Attorney General William Barr thumbed his nose at Congress about the Mueller report yesterday, while repeating one of Trump’s most deranged phony conspiracy theories. Then Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin thumbed his nose at Congress as well when he announced that he was illegally refusing to turn over Trump’s tax returns.

These two scoundrels just declared war against American democracy, on Trump’s behalf. If Trump wants a war, and he clearly does, Nancy Pelosi is going to give him one. When she spoke before the cameras yesterday and accused Barr of having gone “off the rails,” you could clearly see from her tone and body language that Trump and his stooges had crossed her red line.

ny times logoNew York Times, Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig, April 10, 2019. Maryanne Trump Barry faced complaints of judicial misconduct after a New York Times investigation found she had engaged in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings. President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.

The status change rendered the investigation moot, since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules. The people who filed the complaints were notified last week that the matter had been dropped without a finding on the merits of the allegations. The decision has not yet been made public, but copies were provided to The Times by two of the complainants. Both are involved in the legal profession.

Judicial council reviews can result in the censure or reprimand of federal judges, and in extremely rare cases, a referral to the House of Representatives for impeachment.

In retirement, Judge Barry is entitled to receive annually the salary she earned when she last met certain workload requirements. Though the exact figure was not immediately available, it appears to be between $184,500 and $217,600.

The Times investigation focused on how the profits and ownership of the real estate empire built by the president’s father, Fred C. Trump, were transferred to Donald J. Trump and his siblings, often in ways designed to dodge gift and estate taxes.

A lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, said last fall, “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory.”

djt smiling file

DCReport.com, Investigative commentary: The Tyranny of Donald J. Trump, David Cay Johnston, right, April 11, 2019. Two Generations of Tax Cheating, and Now He Holds Himself and david cay johnston headshotHis Family Above the Law. Donald J. Trump and his team have now openly declared that he is above the law rather than, as our Constitution provides, a public servant whose duty is to faithfully execute the law. His administration is taking numerous steps that move us in the direction of a Trumpian dictatorship by defeating the rule of law, something I’ve warned about since 2016. We’ll look at one aspect of this today: Trump family taxes.

Trump and his team insist that no one is ever going to see his tax returns, which he promised voters he would make public as every president has done back to Richard Nixon.

Now his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has scurried away from the investigative spotlight of her fellow federal judges, who were looking into whether she was a tax cheat in black robes. By resigning from the federal bench, Trump’s older sister ends that inquiry, the kind of legal favor our system affords those in positions of power to escape scrutiny.

As for defiance of the law, Trump, his personal lawyers and the White House acting chief of staff all declared in recent days that they will defy a 1924 anti-corruption statute that gives certain members of Congress, and one Congressional employee, the unqualified authority to examine any tax return.

No previous president has defied the statute ordering the Treasury to handover tax returns, and no document request has ever been refused.

Trump claims that “the law is 100% on my side” in refusing the turn over the documents. In fact, the law is 100% against Trump. When I asked a half dozen former top Congressional tax-writing staffers about Trump’s claim some of them laughed out loud, while others said in sober turns that there is no legal argument on Trump’s side – none.

The most direct Trump declaration that he is above the law is his directing the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to keep his federal income tax returns locked up. No previous president has defied this statute and no document request has ever been refused, a host of people who worked for the tax-writing committees on Capitol Hill told me.

Trump’s arguments are mere political rhetoric. But it gets worse than that.

Trump lawyer William S. Consovoy in an April 5 letter asked Treasury to hold back the documents. Consovoy asserted mind-reading powers in his letter: “His request is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and speech.”

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, declared on Fox News Sunday that the Trump administration will “never” comply with the law.

Trump and his team are now openly declaring that Trump is above the law, a clear step toward a dictatorship. Our David Cay Johnston explains in the first of several pieces examining official lawlessness.

April 10

Barr's Spin?

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr says he thinks ‘spying did occur’ in probe of Trump campaign associates, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian​, April 10, 2019. Attorney General William william barr new oP. Barr (right) said Wednesday he thought “spying” on a political campaign occurred in the course of intelligence agencies’ investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election — a startling assertion by the nation’s top law enforcement official.

At a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr was asked about his statement a day earlier that he would review how the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation that sought to determine whether Donald Trump’s associates were interacting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal,” said Barr, noting that there are long-held rules to prevent intelligence agencies from collecting information on domestic political figures.

“I’m not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at that,” he said. “I’m not talking about the FBI necessarily but intelligence agencies more broadly.”

Current and former law enforcement officials have defended their handling of the Russia investigation, saying it was carefully handled based on available evidence, and they have firmly denied they engaged in political spying. Those current and former officials have argued they were obligated to investigate allegations that Trump associates might be conspiring with Russians to interfere in the election.

jennifer rubin new headshotwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: William Barr, Trump toady, Jennifer Rubin (right), April 10, 2019.The Post reports: "Attorney General William P. Barr said Wednesday he thought “spying” on a political campaign occurred in the course of intelligence agencies’ investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election — a startling assertion by the nation’s top law enforcement official. . . ."

This is the language of a PR spinner, not the attorney general of the United States. As my colleague Aaron Blake points out, “spying” is a loaded phrase and a political accusation.

Moreover, the Justice Department itself has refuted this notion, making clear that the Russia probe began before the government’s surveillance of Carter Page.

Now, if you didn’t already think Barr was failing to fulfill his oath to enforce the laws as the people’s lawyer (not Trump’s lawyer), this latest episode might do it.

Remember that Barr already substituted his own “exoneration” of Trump on obstruction of justice (something the Justice Department’s guidelines specify should be a matter for Congress and not for the department), refused to use summaries that Robert S. Mueller III’s team prepared in favor of his misleading summary (which he later claimed was not a summary), has failed to turn over the report or Mueller summaries to Congress in a timely manner and has refused to make an unredacted version of the report available to Congress. All in all, it’s a shabby record of politicizing the Justice Department in a way that his predecessors avoided.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi has had enough of Donald Trump’s crap, BD Holly, April 10, 2019. Attorney General William Barr’s self-serving and shortsighted answers to nancy pelosi twitterthe questions asked of him during his public testimony on Wednesday were predictably favorable to Donald Trump, but might have served an unintended purpose – unchaining the inner mounting wrath of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

bill palmer report logo headerPelosi (shown in her Twitter photo) said this to reporters on Wednesday: “How very, very dismaying and disappointing that the chief law enforcement officer of our country is going off the rails,” likely a response to Barr’s bizarre echoing of a Trump fantasy that the Obama administration had spied on the Trump team. As though he believed his blind monarchical loyalty insufficient in cementing his manifestly partisan stance, he admitted that he had no evidence to corroborate this claim. Now that there’s no shadow of a doubt that our Attorney General is an utter stooge, where in the system do we look for a check on his bias?

Trump's Migrant Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Twelve days of chaos: Inside the White House’s growing panic to contain the border crisis, David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim, April 10, 2019.  President Trump has blamed others for spiking immigration numbers, but his housecleaning at the Department of Homeland Security shows a realization that he is facing an existential political threat.

kirstjen nielsenHe had threatened to close the southern border and ordered a halt to foreign aid for three Central American nations. But as President Trump weighed his next move to respond to a mounting immigration crisis, he had another problem: His homeland security chief was in Europe on a week-long business trip.

The location of Kirstjen Nielsen (right), the embattled leader of the Department of Homeland Security, on April 1 was like a bad joke for a president who vowed to curb unauthorized immigration but was now showing signs of panic as border crossings spiked to the highest levels in more than a decade.

Nielsen, who had barely hung on to her job during previous run-ins with Trump, cut her trip short and flew back to Washington. Upon returning, she furiously tried to save her job. Nielsen convened emergency calls with White House aides and Cabinet officials to urge them to help her on immigration, White House officials said. She ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deploy “emergency surge operations,” shifting up to 750 officers from other duties to help the overwhelmed Border Patrol. But by then it was too late.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner on a potential collision course over immigration, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa​, April 10, 2019. As Kushner seeks to appeal to his father-in-law’s desire to be seen as a dealmaker, Miller represents the president’s id — reaffirming hard-line impulses on immigration policy.

“President Obama had child separation. Take a look. The press knows it, you know it, we all know it. I didn’t have — I’m the one that stopped it. President Obama had child separation. … President Obama separated children. They had child separation. I was the one that changed it, okay?”

President Trump, in remarks at the Oval Office, April 9, 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy, Salvador Rizzo, This is a Four Pinocchio claim, yet Trump keeps repeating it when he’s pressed on family separations.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tower Condo Sale Linked to Republic of Congo, Report Says, Jesse Drucker, April 10, 2019. A company owned by the daughter of the Republic of Congo’s president paid $7 million for an apartment in a Trump building overlooking Central Park, a nonprofit group found.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan, near the southwest corner of Central Park, is a 44-story building with a mix of luxury condominiums and hotel suites that go for more than $2,500 a night.

Unit 32G, a two-bedroom, 1,767-square-foot apartment with sweeping views of the park, is owned by an entity called Ecree, which bought the condo in 2014 for $7 million in cash.

Documents unearthed by the nonprofit group Global Witness show that the purchase was funded by the daughter of the Republic of Congo’s president, a longtime target of anti-corruption investigators. The funds for the all-cash purchase appear to have been siphoned from that country’s government, according to a report by Global Witness.

April 9

Mueller Report

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The full Mueller report could be released — if the House opens preliminary impeachment hearings, Philip Allen Lacovara and Laurence H. Tribe, laurence tribeApril 9, 2019 (print ed.). Philip Allen Lacovara was a counsel to the Watergate special prosecutor. Laurence H. Tribe (right) is a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School.

The uncertain prospect that the House Judiciary Committee will receive the raw, unredacted report generated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III got even less certain Friday. A decision by the federal court of appeals in Washington now confronts the House leadership and Attorney General William P. Barr with some difficult political choices.

In a 2-to-1 decision in McKeever v. Barr, the court reaffirmed the principle of grand jury secrecy and concluded that a court has no “inherent power” to release grand jury information. This decision will give Barr a plausible basis to resist the Judiciary Committee’s subpoena of the entire Mueller report, even if the committee goes to court to enforce it. But both the House and the attorney general have ways to cope with this obstacle, if they have the political will and the professional judgment to do so.

In McKeever, two Republican appointees, including President Trump’s former deputy White House counsel, concluded that grand jury information must remain confidential unless a request for disclosure falls within one of the narrow exceptions listed in the federal rules of criminal procedure. The court refused to allow the disclosure of grand jury proceedings relating to the 1957 indictment of an FBI agent suspected of conspiring with the regime of Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo to kidnap and murder an outspoken critic. Even though all the witnesses and principals died long ago, the court concluded that a historian writing a book about the incident could not get access to the grand jury proceedings.

jerrold nadler o SmallIn the face of Barr’s decision not to disclose any of the Mueller report to the public or even to the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D- N.Y., shown at right) until Barr and his team have scrubbed the report of grand jury information (and other material), Nadler and committee Democrats have authorized a subpoena for the full report, setting the stage for a court fight over the committee’s right to see grand jury information. Although the public need underlying the request for disclosure in McKeever was much less pressing, the decision in that case undermines the position of Nadler’s committee, because the controlling federal rule contains no exception allowing congressional “oversight” committees to demand access to otherwise secret grand jury proceedings.

One of us (Tribe) has supported investigation but resisted the call for impeachment hearings as such, defending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in that regard, while the other (Lacovara) recently argued that Pelosi was duty-bound under the Constitution to have the House Judiciary Committee open a formal investigation into whether grounds for impeachment exist. One reason for doing so was to enhance the likelihood that the committee could see the evidence that Mueller developed through the use of his investigating grand jury. During the Watergate investigation, the special prosecutor working with a grand jury developed a report detailing the evidence tending to show that President Richard M. Nixon had committed various federal crimes, including obstruction of justice, that might constitute grounds for impeachment.

Justice Department log circularOne of the exceptions to grand jury secrecy is disclosure “preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.” To authorize disclosure of the Watergate grand jury information, the special prosecutor’s office argued that the House had authorized its Judiciary Committee to conduct a formal impeachment inquiry and that such an inquiry could be fairly analogized to a “grand jury” investigation and thus a judicial proceeding. Both the district court and the court of appeals agreed, and the Judiciary Committee obtained both the report and the underlying evidence. Significantly, the appeals court decision several days ago reaffirmed that exception. All three judges agreed that an impeachment inquiry falls within the “exception for judicial proceedings” and “coheres” with other rulings about the proper scope of grand jury secrecy.

But Pelosi has declined to allow the Judiciary Committee to open even a preliminary impeachment inquiry, asserting rather bizarrely that Trump is “not worth it.” That decision may hamstring Nadler’s quest for the complete Mueller report. Nothing in the federal rules creates an explicit exception allowing congressional committees exercising general powers of government “oversight” to demand access to secret grand jury material. So, Pelosi and Nadler are confronting a dilemma of their own making: either revisit the politically fraught impeachment question or concede that the House is at the mercy of whatever judgment the attorney general makes in excising grand jury information, which may include the most salient material about possible collusion and obstruction of justice.

For his part, Barr also has delicate judgments to make. If he is so inclined, the attorney general could properly opt to exclude only the names and actual testimony of grand jury witnesses while nevertheless informing the Judiciary Committee — and the public — about the substance of the information developed during the proceedings. Unfortunately, Barr has given every indication that he intends to make needlessly sweeping redactions, especially having ruled that, in his judgment, the evidence of obstruction of justice did not rise to the level of a prosecutable crime. Trump’s selection of his new attorney general may prove to be his best line of defense — unless Pelosi revisits her stance and directs the House Judiciary Committee to include impeachment within its investigatory ambit.

April 8

U.S. 'Homeland' Ouster

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Kevin McAleenan is taking over DHS. Will he be ‘tough’ enough for Trump? Nick Miroff, April 8, 2019. One of the most difficult jobs in Washington kevin mcaleenan o Custom 2now belongs to Kevin McAleenan, who President Trump is placing in charge of the Department of Homeland Security after the ouster of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Sunday.

As the new acting secretary at DHS, McAleenan (right) faces the largest wave of illegal crossings at the Mexico border in more than a decade. In Washington, he’ll contend with an impatient boss who is demanding an immediate halt to the surge. And to deliver that, McAleenan will have to court Democratic lawmakers with little political incentive to help the White House ahead of the 2020 election.

McAleenan — the current commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection — presents as a natural leader of DHS, a no-nonsense law enforcement official with longtime practical immigration experience. For a president who places a premium on appearances, McAleenan, 47, also looks the part, with close-cropped hair and a stern bearing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Kirstjen Nielsen Enforced Cruelty at the Border. Her Replacement Could Be Worse, Editorial Board, April 8, 2019. She will be remembered for the forced separation of thousands of migrant families. She was said to have become increasingly insecure in her job in recent weeks, as Mr. Trump repeatedly railed about the kirstjen nielsenchaos at the border and vowed to move in a “tougher” direction. The president grew impatient with Ms. Nielsen’s insistence that federal law and international obligations limited her actions.

It’s no secret that Mr. Trump had a problem with Ms. Nielsen (right), whom he considered “weak” on matters of border security. The president and Stephen Miller, his hard-line immigration adviser, have long grumbled privately about the secretary’s insufficiently brutal approach to the surge in migrant families across the border. Last May, stories surfaced about Mr. Trump publicly berating her in front of the entire cabinet for failing to stop the crossings. Ms. Nielsen was said to have drafted a resignation letter at the time.

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service chief to leave amid broader shake-up at Homeland Security, Toluse Olorunnipa and Carol D. Leonnig, April 8, 2019. U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph D. “Tex” Alles will be stepping down from his post, the latest in a string of departures from President Trump’s administration.

randolph alles o CustomAlles (right) “has done a great job at the agency over the last two years, and the President is thankful for his over 40 years of service to the country,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “Mr. Alles will be leaving shortly and President Trump has selected James M. Murray, a career member of the USSS, to take over as director beginning in May.”

The departure of the Secret Service chief comes amid a broader shake-up in the Department of Homeland Security. On Sunday, Trump announced that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would be stepping down. Last week, Trump said he was rescinding his nomination of Ronald Vitiello to be director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying he wanted to go in a “tougher” direction. Both Alles and Vitiello reported to Nielsen.

Security protocols around Trump have come under scrutiny in recent days after an apparent security breach at the president’s Florida resort.

Secret Service agents arrested a Chinese woman after she gained access to the reception area of the Mar-a-Lago Club late last month, saying they found she was carrying two passports and a thumb drive containing malicious software, according to court documents. Prosecutors say the woman, Yujing Zhang, first approached a Mar-a-Lago security checkpoint March 30 and told security officials she was there to go to the swimming pool.

Management at Trump’s Palm Beach property, where individuals pay a fee to obtain memberships that can provide proximity to the president, allowed the woman to bypass security, prosecutors said. Zhang was ultimately stopped after a receptionist questioned her.

The Secret Service issued a statement after the woman was caught, appearing to lay blame for the security breach on management at Trump’s club. “The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity,” the agency said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) released a statement Monday calling for Alles to testify before Congress concerning Mar-a-Lago and any security issues the president’s club poses, as well as other matters.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Total chaos: Donald Trump just shoved even more of his own people out the White House back door, Bill Palmer, April 8, 2019. One day after the “resignation” of Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen, it turns out Donald Trump is just getting started when it comes to parting ways with his own people. In fact he’s essentially gutting the leadership at DHS, as he once again tries to revive his failed presidency by scapegoating as many of his own people as possible.

secret service logobill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump is also firing Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, according to CNN, and Deputy Homeland Security Director Claire Grady, according to NBC News. This comes after Trump withdrew his own ICE Director nominee Ron Vitiello. What do these three people have in common? They all answered directly to Kirstjen Nielsen at DHS. Not only is Trump ridding himself of Nielsen, he’s ridding himself of anyone who was aligned with her. So what’s he really up to?

Nielsen obviously had no problem with kidnapping immigrant kids from their parents and leaving them to die in cages. But in the hours since her departure, multiple major news outlets have reported that Trump was increasingly pushing her to do things that she considered illegal. She was frustrated by it, and he was frustrated by her unwillingness to do it. Nielsen already belongs in prison for negligently getting those kids killed. Whatever else Trump was pushing her to do, it must have been something even worse than killing kids.

Trump's Tax Stonewall

ny times logoNew York Times, To Get Trump’s Tax Returns, N.Y. Democrats Try a New Strategy, Jesse McKinley, April 8, 2019. A new bill would allow New York officials to release Mr. Trump’s state tax returns to congressional committees. In an attempt to work around the White House, Democratic lawmakers in Albany are trying to do what their federal counterparts have so far failed to accomplish: to obtain President Trump’s tax returns.

irs logoAlbany lawmakers are seeking state tax returns, not the federal ones at the heart of the current standoff in Washington. But a tax return from New York — the president’s home state, and the headquarters of his business empire — could likely contain much of the same financial information as a federal return.

Under a bill that is scheduled to be introduced this week, the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance would be permitted to release any state tax return requested by leaders of three congressional committees for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose.”

The bill is the most recent proposal from New York lawmakers trying to cast light on the president’s personal finances and business dealings, but it could also open the Democratic majorities in the Legislature to charges of politicizing state law to embarrass the president ahead of his expected re-election campaign.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who is sponsoring the legislation, defended the bill, saying it is designed to be “a safety valve for any attempt by the White House to block the Congress from doing this at the federal level.”

mick mulvaney oThe bill’s expected introduction on Monday comes even as the I.R.S. and Treasury Department in Washington are deciding whether to comply with a request last week from the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, for access under a provision of the federal tax code to six years of his federal returns by April 10.

Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer called the effort by Mr. Neal a “gross abuse of power” — an opinion that was seconded by the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney (left), who said on Sunday that Democrats would “never” see the president’s tax returns. It remains unclear if the federal tax collecting agencies will share that view.

More On U.S. Taxes

Roll Call, Opinion: If your taxes are a complicated mess, you’re not alone, Jason J. Fichtner, Apr 8, 2019. Americans spend too much time, money and energy each year trying to understand and follow the tax code. The total economic loss (the costs of complying, lobbying and changed behavior) from the tax code may be up to a trillion dollars per year. And that was before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 caused new confusion for many filers.

Proposals for new wealth taxes, changes to marginal tax rates, or adjusting the estate tax capture the imagination of policy wonks. But such discussions often overlook the most important aspect of these policies — how the tax code is administered.

In practice, these administrative issues could make or break any attempt at reform, as well as the tax code as a whole. In a new paper for the Bipartisan Policy Center released today, Bill Gale, Jeff Trinca and I point to three fundamental issues with our tax system.

irs logoFirst, our tax system is too costly to comply with. Americans spend too much time, money and energy each year trying to understand and follow the tax code. By my estimate, the total economic loss (the costs of complying, lobbying and changed behavior) from the tax code may be up to a trillion dollars per year. This estimate was before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which has caused new confusion for many filers and may have made the code more complex.

Second, compliance is especially hard for filers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit, an effective pro-work and anti-poverty program that I’ve advocated for improving. The EITC has a web of complex eligibility rules that can be hard for potential claimants to navigate and prove that they meet. How would you go about proving to the IRS, for example, that your child lived with you for at least six months last year?

Furthermore, lax oversight allows some fringe tax preparers to prey on low-income filers, which drives a significant share of improper EITC payments and can lead to penalties for the filer.

Third, it is too easy for some filers to evade their taxes. The most recent estimate, for 2008-2010, is that about $406 billion in taxes each year goes uncollected. Tax fraud crops up in cases like the recent college admissions scandal, contributing to Americans’ general sense that loopholes and offshore accounts make it too easy for some taxpayers to wriggle out of what they owe. Ultimately, this shortfall must be made up for by those of us who do pay our taxes.
Overworked and underfunded

One underlying cause of all three issues is that Congress has chronically underfunded the IRS, reducing their budget by more than 15 percent since 2010. While to some this may sound like good politics, a lack of staff and resources hinders the agency’s ability to catch tax cheats and to provide taxpayers with high levels of support, resulting in longer telephone wait times for taxpayers seeking assistance and only 0.5 percent of all returns audited in 2016.

Former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen estimates that up to 40 percent of the IRS workforce could retire this year, which will only further diminish the agency’s institutional knowledge and ability.

Trump Probes

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Scrutiny and suspicion as Mueller report undergoes redaction, Devlin Barrett​, April 8, 2019. Experts say Attorney General William P. Barr (right) has wide discretion to determine what is revealed, meaning the fight over blacked-out boxes is likely to spawn months of legal fights.

djt robert mueller headshots

U.S. Secret Threat To Lebanon?

April 7

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Scrutiny and suspicion as Mueller report undergoes redaction, Devlin Barrett​, April 7, 2019. Experts say Attorney General William P. Barr has wide discretion to determine what is revealed, meaning the fight over blacked-out boxes is likely to spawn months of legal fights.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller’s real endgame for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, April 7, 2019. For as long as Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Donald Trump, we pointed out that Mueller surely didn’t come out of retirement and go to the trouble of spending two years investigating an illegitimate criminal president, just to hand in a book report and go home. Yet, when Mueller first turned in his report, it appeared that was precisely what he had done.

bill palmer report logo headerIn the two weeks since, a few things have become clear. For instance, Robert Mueller obviously found a metric ton of criminal dirt on Donald Trump. We know this because of what Trump and his associates have directly confessed to, what the media has dug up, and what Mueller’s team told us this week.

Also, Robert Mueller clearly wasn’t done with his investigation when he abruptly turned in his report and disbanded his team. We’re now seeing U.S. Attorneys pick up various threads of the Mueller probe, from the inevitable superseding indictment against Roger Stone, to the grand jury proceedings involving the foreign government owned mystery company. The question is whether Mueller quit voluntarily.

There’s one big thing to watch. Robert Mueller is still technically employed as Special Counsel. On Friday, Mueller’s office announced that his employment will officially be off the job within a few days. Once Mueller is no longer working for the DOJ, he should immediately have more freedom to get his message out there. Mueller follows the rules, but when you look at his past history of prosecutions, he usually goes with the most aggressive possible interpretation of the rules.

UK Consumer Protection Against New Media

washington post logoWashington Post, U.K. unveils sweeping plan to penalize Facebook and Google for harmful online content, Tony Romm​, April 7, 2019. The proposal marks a major new facebook logoregulatory threat for an industry that’s long dodged responsibility for what its users say or share.

British regulators on Sunday unveiled a landmark proposal to penalize Facebook, Google and other tech giants that fail to stop the spread of harmful content google logo customonline, marking a major new regulatory threat for an industry that’s long dodged responsibility for what its users say or share.

The aggressive, new plan — drafted by the United Kingdom’s leading consumer-protection authorities and blessed by Prime Minister Theresa May — targets a wide array of web content, including child exploitation, false news, terrorist activity and extreme violence. If approved by Parliament, U.K. watchdogs would gain unprecedented powers to issue fines and other punishments if social-media sites don’t swiftly remove the most egregious posts, photos and videos from public view.

Israel's Election On Tuesday

washington post logoWashington Post, Arab Israeli candidates launch last-ditch effort against Netanyahu and voter disillusionment, Loveday Morris​, April 7, 2019. Polls predict that turnout among Arab Israelis in Tuesday’s general election in Israel will plummet.

April 3

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats seek six years of Trump’s tax returns, setting stage for fight, Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey, April 3, 2019. ​"This request is about policy, not politics,” the Ways and Means Committee chairman said. The president has said he does not plan to hand over his tax returns to Congress — and that he irs logowould fight it to the Supreme Court, according to two administration officials.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee asked the IRS on Wednesday for six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax richard neal oreturns, a request with which the president immediately said he was not inclined to comply.

The committee chair’s letter to the Internal Revenue Service — and Trump’s immediate and public response — set up what is likely to become an intense and drawn-out court fight as Democrats push to see tax records they think can shed light on numerous aspects of Trump’s business dealings and Trump resists their demands. The Ways and Means chairman’s request was expected but nonetheless represented a significant escalation in House Democrats’ wide-ranging probes of Trump and his administration.

The IRS was given until April 10 to respond. The panel’s chairman was able to make the request because of a 1924 law that gives the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee broad powers to request and receive the tax returns of any American.

“Congress, as a coequal branch of government, has a duty to conduct oversight of departments and officials,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), left, said in a statement. “The Ways and Means Committee in particular has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary federal tax system and determine how Americans — including those elected to our highest office — are complying with those laws.”

Barr Cover-Up / Spin Alleged

ny times logoNew York Times, Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt and Mark Mazzetti, April 3, 2019.
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.

However, the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report, a person familiar with the investigation said. And the Justice Department quickly determined that the summaries contain sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential, according to two government officials.

The officials and others interviewed declined to flesh out why some of the special counsel’s investigators viewed their findings as potentially more damaging for the president than Mr. Barr explained, although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation. It was unclear how much discussion Mr. Mueller and his investigators had with senior Justice Department officials about how their findings would be made public. It was also unclear how widespread the vexation is among the special counsel team, which included 19 lawyers, about 40 F.B.I. agents and other personnel.

House OKs Mueller Subpoenas

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel votes to authorize subpoenas to obtain full Mueller report, Rachael Bade​, April 3, 2019. Attorney General William P. Barr has pledged to deliver a redacted version of the special counsel's report by mid-April, but Democrats said redactions are unacceptable. The fight over the report is expected to land in the courts. A House panel voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s full report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying down a marker in a constitutional power struggle that could end up in the courts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-17 along party lines to authorize its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to subpoena the report and underlying documents of Mueller’s probe from Attorney General William P. Barr.

WhoWhatWhy, Decision Limits Judicial Discretion To Release Grand Jury Materials, Celia Wexler, April 6, 2019. Friday’s decision by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit whowhatwhy logoappears to sharply limit the discretion of judges to order disclosure of any grand jury materials, which might result in a highly redacted public document. In a 2-to-1 decision in McKeever v. Barr, judges ruled that a court can reveal grand jury materials only if they meet specific exemptions in the law; those exemptions include disclosure to another grand jury, to a state prosecutor, or to the intelligence community.

As recently as 2016, another appellate court had come to a different conclusion. Three years ago, the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit held that the court had the authority to disclose grand jury materials, having the power to balance the need for secrecy against compelling “policy interests,” said Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

McQuade and Andrew Wright, former associate counsel to President Barack Obama, participated in a webinar on the Mueller memo Friday afternoon sponsored by the American Constitution Society (ACS) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

While Friday’s decision might make it harder for a federal court to disclose details of the Mueller investigation, McQuade noted that the DC Circuit also cited another decision that could continue to make it possible for the House Judiciary Committee to see the grand jury material in the Mueller report.

Haldeman v. Sirica was issued in 1974, at the time of the Watergate scandal. The court held that it was lawful for the House Judiciary Committee to receive grand jury material. Under legal rules governing the disclosure of grand jury information, McQuade said, grand jury materials may be shared with another grand jury, or in connection with another judicial proceeding. During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee was “acting as a grand jury in an impeachment proceeding,” McQuade said.

She said that the same exemption should apply to the current House Judiciary Committee. Asked by WhoWhatWhy whether the committee would have to vote to impeach for that exemption to apply, McQuade said an impeachment vote would not be necessary. Since House Judiciary has the “responsibility to impeach,” it would need access to the materials before making that judgment, she said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Today is going to be crucial in Donald Trump’s downfall, Bill Palmer, April 3, 2019. Donald Trump spent yesterday exhibiting some of his most frantic, deranged, and cognitively-challenged behavior yet – and for good reason. He knows what today is all about. Before the morning is over, the House Judiciary Committee will have voted to hand unilateral subpoena power to Chairman Jerry Nadler with respect to the Mueller report, and Nadler can be expected to put it to good use almost immediately.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Palmer Report has spent the past week cautioning, subpoenas aren’t magic wands; they don’t produce immediate or automatic results, which is why the House Democrats didn’t simply start firing them off willy nilly the minute the illegitimate Barr summary was published. Like any sophisticated weapon, the use of the subpoena process has to be handled smartly and strategically in order to get the intended result. For instance, simply subpoenaing the Mueller report, while taking no other action, could set up a lengthy court battle while a judge tries to decide how much of the report should be in the public purview. Nadler has to be smarter in his approach, and he will be.

jerrold nadler o SmallNadler, right, has several possible avenues for his subpoenas. He can subpoena the report itself. He can subpoena William Barr to testify about how he took a multi-hundred page report and “summarized” it into four cartoonishly pro-Trump pages. He can subpoena Robert Mueller to testify about his report, and then try to fight off Barr’s inevitable attempt at muzzling Mueller. He can try to subpoena materials from Mueller’s grand jury. The list goes on. The question is how he’ll choose to combine these tactics, and potentially others, into a cohesive strategy which will ensure that the law – and the court of public opinion – remain strongly on his side as Barr tries to fight him every step of the way.

Within hours, we’ll see what Jerry Nadler and his fellow House Democrats have up their sleeve. For now, the most telling sign we have is that Donald Trump is falling to pieces while he waits to find out what’s about to happen to him. Trump isn’t coming off like a guy who’s expecting today to go well for him. We think today will end up being a crucial day in his inevitable downfall.

Major Security Breach By Mar-A-Lago Visitor

ny times logoNew York Times, Woman From China Carrying Malware Arrested After Entering Mar-a-Lago, Frances Robles, April 3, 2019 (print ed.). A 32-year-old woman from China carrying four cellphones and a thumb drive infected with malware gained access to Mar-a-Lago during President Trump’s visit to the Florida resort over the weekend, federal court records show.

The woman, identified as Yujing Zhang, had arrived at the Palm Beach resort and showed two Chinese passports when she sought to be admitted, saying she wanted to use the pool.

She was allowed to enter by Secret Service agents stationed outside the resort after the Mar-a-Lago security manager on duty verified that her last name matched the surname of a member of the club, according to a complaint filed in Federal District Court in South Florida.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘You pay and you get in’: At Trump’s beach retreat, hundreds of customers — and growing security concerns, David A. Fahrenthold, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima​, April 3, 2019. ​The FBI is looking at why a Chinese national illegally gained access to Mar-a-Lago last weekend.

washington post logojared kushner head shotWashington Post, Kushner is identified as senior White House official whose security clearance was denied, Tom Hamburger, Rachael Bade and Ashley Parker​​, April 3, 2019. The president’s son-in-law, described in a House committee document as “Official 1,” had “significant disqualifying factors,” according to a White House whistleblower.

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump leaves Washington reeling as he struggles with domestic agenda, Seung Min Kim and Erica Werner, April 3, 2019 (print ed.). Republicans are trying to Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)cope with the whiplash as the president rolls out new policies on health care and immigration.

• Washington Post, House set to rebuke Trump’s attempt to use courts to overturn Obamacare
• Washington Post, Aides warn Trump of economic peril in closing the border

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Takeover of the Republican Party Is Almost Complete, April 3, 2019. The Trump campaign helped install allies atop the most significant state parties, and urged them to discourage conservative criticism of the president. So far, loyalty has prevailed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump mocks Biden over allegations of inappropriate touching, Felicia Sonmez, April 3, 2019 (print ed.). In a speech at a Republican fundraising dinner, the president took aim at his potential 2020 White House rival, who has faced growing allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women.

 

alexander acosta o cropped Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Acosta confronted by lawmakers over plea deal in Jeffrey Epstein sexual misconduct case, Kimberly Kindy, Felicia Sonmez and Lisa Rein, April 3, 2019. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was confronted by Democratic lawmakers Wednesday over his decision as a federal prosecutor to sign off on a plea deal in a sex trafficking case involving multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

The exchange at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing marked the first time Acosta has been questioned publicly about the case since a judge ruled in February that the 2008 arrangement he oversaw as a U.S. attorney in South Florida had broken the law because his office failed to properly notify victims.

“You chose wealthy and well-connected people, child rapists, over the victims in this case,” said Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), who noted that “the hideous truth has come out” about Acosta’s role in the case.

Clark cited the Epstein case as she questioned Acosta on his department’s decision to propose cutting the budget for one of its divisions tasked with combating human trafficking from $68 million to $18.5 million.

“This isn’t the first time you have ignored human trafficking,” Clark said. “If you as U.S. attorney could not fight for these girls, how, as secretary of labor, can you tell this panel and the American people that you can responsibly oversee this budget [and] the Department of Labor, including human trafficking?”

Acosta responded that human trafficking is “an in­cred­ibly important issue” and said the Justice Department had long defended the plea deal.

“Epstein was incarcerated,” Acosta said. “He registered as a sex offender. The world was put on notice that he was a sex offender, and the victims received restitution.”

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThe 2008 plea deal stemmed from a federal investigation of Epstein (right) focused on alleged sex trafficking and molestation of dozens of underage girls. Before the deal, prosecutors drafted a 53-page federal indictment that included sex trafficking charges, which could have placed Epstein in prison for life.

Epstein’s plea agreement allowed him to instead plead guilty to two state felony solicitation charges, casting the victims as prostitutes. The deal led to a 13-month stay in county jail during which Epstein was allowed to leave custody six days a week, 12 hours a day, for work.

Acosta, 50, has received support from his boss, President Trump, who in February called him a “fantastic labor secretary.” On Wednesday, Acosta argued that Epstein would have faced even lighter punishment had the plea deal not been struck.

“I understand the frustration,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to know he was going to get off with no jail time or restitution. It was the work of our office that resulted in him going to jail. It was the work of our office that resulted in him having to register as a sex offender.”

kenneth marra open jurist croppedThe deal has received renewed media and legal scrutiny in recent months. In February, Judge Kenneth A. Marra (left) of the Federal District Court in West Palm Beach ruled that the failure by Acosta’s office to notify victims in advance of the deal prevented the victims from being able to exercise their legal right to object before the deal took effect. Marra has set a deadline of May 10 for attorneys for two victims, who filed the lawsuit that led to the ruling, and attorneys for Epstein to propose an alternative deal.

The ruling could ultimately nullify the plea deal.

The Justice Department in February opened an investigation into its handling of the Epstein case after a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), pressed for answers about the plea agreement.

In March, The Washington Post reported that, although Epstein’s alleged victims were as young as 14, the only minor he was convicted of soliciting was 16 when the offenses began. The decision to charge Epstein with a crime involving an older teen has eased his obligations to register as a sex offender. For example, Epstein does not have to register in New Mexico, where he owns a ranch, because his victim was not under 16.

April 2

Trump Security Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The White House whistleblower bombshell, and what it could mean, Aaron Blake, April 2, 2019 (print ed.). Trump overrode officials' concerns to demand Kushner's security clearance. The White House has repeatedly shunned national security protocols when it comes to protecting information and clearances. And a named person stepping forward is a significant development.

It wasn’t that long ago that Donald Trump ran for president making the case that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state represented a grave national security threat and made her unfit for office.

washington post logojared kushner head shotWashington Post, Jared Kushner dismisses concerns raised by White House whistleblower on security clearances, John Wagner​, April 2, 2019. In a rare television interview, the White House adviser and presidential son-in-law (right) said the Trump administration has faced “a lot of crazy accusations.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner: A much more potentially damaging spy couple than Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, Wayne Madsen wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small(left, author, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), April 2, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). Tricia Newbold, the Adjudications Manager for the White House Personnel Security Office, a career civil service position, experienced something she had not seen before in past Democratic and Republican administrations.

After denying security clearances to 25 Trump political appointees on the White House staff, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Newbold was overruled by higher-level officials in the Trump administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Whistle-Blower Did the Unexpected: She Returned to Work, Katie Rogers, April 2, 2019 (print ed.).Tricia Newbold, the Trump administration’s latest whistle-blower, did something unexpected only hours after a House committee released her deposition that the White House had overruled career staff members who denied officials their security clearances: She went back to work.

tricia newbold“As you can imagine,” Ms. Newbold, left, a 39-year-old employee of the White House Personnel Security Office, wrote in an email during her commute on Monday, “I am extremely nervous for how people at work will treat me.”

But according to people close to her, she was not afraid to tell them about the things she had seen. Ms. Newbold’s decision to accuse her own office of rampant mismanagement of the security clearances of at least 25 employees came after months of what she characterized as personal discrimination and professional retaliation from Carl Kline, the office’s former director, after she spent roughly a year trying to raise issues internally.

In a White House where aggressive leak investigations are conducted in service of President Trump, who has aides sign nondisclosure agreements, Ms. Newbold’s account represents the rarest of developments: a damning on-the-record account from a current employee inside his ranks.
“She wasn’t looking for trouble,” Ms. Newbold’s lawyer, Edward Passman, said in an interview on Monday. “And she wasn’t looking to go public. But her back was to the wall and she did what she had to do.”

Described as both “no nonsense” and “intense” by people who have interacted with her during the clearance process, Ms. Newbold has served under four presidential administrations, beginning with the Clinton White House in 2000. Eventually she worked her way up to adjudications manager, a job that required her to help make determinations about the security clearances of administration employees. Her office is filled with holdovers from other administrations, and it is meant to be nonpartisan.

Barr, Mueller Reports

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: Barr Puts the Politics in DOJ, Bill Yeomans, right, April 2, 2019. Congress confirmed William Barr as attorney general despite his disqualifying record of bill yeomans afj cropped Customenabling presidential misconduct. Nobody should be surprised that his short tenure has already revealed his willingness to elevate the political interests of the president over the traditions of the Department of Justice and the role of Congress.

His memo spinning the conclusions of the Mueller report made him a cheerleader for Trump, while his capitulation to Trump’s demand that the Department of Justice no longer defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act debased the rule of law for Trump’s political gain. His behavior bodes ill for the future in which Trump, with support from Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), will clamor for revenge investigations of the Mueller investigators. It will be up to Barr to stand up to political demands for investigations that lack an evidentiary predicate.

alliance for justice logoBarr’s letter summarizing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report was an overtly political act. He should have said nothing and sent the report itself to Congress. Not only did he spin the contents of the report, but he stepped in to override Mueller’s decision not to make a prosecutorial determination regarding obstruction of justice. According to Barr, Mueller’s non-decision left it to the Attorney General to make the call. Barr – whose 19-page memo contended that the president could not commit obstruction while exercising power given to him by Article II of the Constitution – was eager to oblige.

The most likely reason for Mueller’s non-call was that he knew DOJ could not prosecute the president. He had, however, found substantial evidence of obstruction that prevented exoneration of the president. He, therefore, decided to pass the information to Congress, which is the only entity with power to hold the president accountable.

william barr new oThere was no reason for anybody at DOJ to answer the hypothetical question whether the president should be prosecuted. Barr, right, playing free safety for Team Trump, however, swooped in to intercept Mueller’s pass to Congress and ran it back for a score, which prompted Trump and his entire bench to empty into the end-zone for a round of celebratory taunting.

By answering the obstruction question, Barr gave Trump the talking point he craved -- no collusion and no obstruction – which is far better than no collusion and no decision on obstruction. Barr, by issuing his memo well before release of any part of the actual report, gave Trump and his supporters ample time to spread the message. Despite the head start, the public isn’t buying. Polling by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows that only 29 percent believe that Trump has been exonerated. That number will not increase once the public sees the report, which surely contains evidence harmful to Trump.

April 1

U.S. Security / Trump Watch

jared kushner ivanka trump saudi

President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, shown above on one of their many foreign affairs events, were reportedly awarded security clearances at the president's demand over the objections of professional security staff (White House photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration, Rachael Bade, April 1, 2019. A White House whistleblower told lawmakers that more than two-dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned during the Trump administration, calling Congress her “last hope” donald trump o smilefor addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation’s secrets exposed.

Tricia Newbold, a longtime White House security adviser, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she and her colleagues issued “dozens” of denials for security clearance applications that were later approved despite their concerns about blackmail, foreign influence, or other red flags, according to panel documents released Monday.

Newbold, an 18-year veteran of the security clearance process who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, said she warned her superiors that clearances “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security” — and was retaliated against for doing so.

elijah cummings o“I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security,” Newbold told the committee, according to a panel document summarizing her allegations.

Newbold added: “I feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office.”

The allegation comes during an escalating fight over the issue between House Democrats and the White House. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the committee chairman, said in a letter to the White House Counsel’s Office that his panel would vote on Tuesday to subpoena at least one individual who overruled Newbold — the committee’s first compulsory move aimed at the White House.

Mueller Probe

 ny times logojerrold nadler o SmallNew York Times, Opinion: The House Must See the Whole Mueller Report, Jerrold L. Nadler (right, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee), April 1, 2019. Someday, Trump will not be in office. Congress needs a full accounting of his misdeeds to ensure they don’t happen again.

washington post logoWashington Post, House committee plans vote this week to subpoena full Mueller report, John Wagner​, April 1, 2019. The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, escalating a feud with the Justice Department.

Politico, Press group asks judge to lift grand jury secrecy in Mueller report, Josh Gerstein, April 1, 2019. A group advocating for journalists and First Amendment rights is asking a judge to clear away one of the key obstacles the Justice Department is citing as grounds for withholding portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report: the presence of information gathered through the secret actions of a grand jury.

beryl howellThe Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a petition Monday with Chief Judge Beryl Howell, right, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, asking her to rule that officials need not withhold from the Congress — or the public — any grand jury material in Mueller's report on his probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The move comes as Attorney General William Barr has pledged to prepare a version of the report for public release by mid-April. However, that pledge came with several caveats, including that the department would have to excise grand jury-related testimony and evidence.

Barr even noted in one letter that it could be a criminal offense for officials to release information covered by grand jury secrecy.
The new petition amounts to a pre-emptive step to take the grand-jury concern off the table by having Howell rule that the interests of public and Congress in seeing the Justice Department logoinformation outweigh any other concerns.

"This Court should enable the release of the Special Counsel's Report to the public to the greatest extent possible," attorney Ted Boutrous and other lawyers wrote in the new filing. "Although the Special Counsel's investigation has only recently concluded, the resulting report — and the grand jury material the Attorney General has proposed to redact therein—is of unique public and historical significance... The grand jury material at issue cuts to the core of our democracy."

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the petition. (Note: This reporter serves on an oversight board for the Reporters' Committee.)

The move by the journalists' group is just the latest attempt to try to force disclosure of a broader portion or the entirety of Mueller's report, notwithstanding Barr's indication of the need for redactions.

On the same day Mueller sent his report to Barr, a Washington-based watchdog group — the Electronic Privacy Information Center — filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit demanding access to the document.

U.S. Border Issues

washington post logomick mulvaney oWashington Post, White House doubles down on threat to close U.S.-Mexico border, David J. Lynch, Maria Sacchetti and Joel Achenbach, April 1, 2019 (print ed). Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, said it would take “something dramatic” to persuade President Trump not to close the border. Such a move would have dramatic consequences for families seeking asylum and would seriously impede trade.

U.S. Economic Policy

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Moore is less, Robert J. Samuelson, April 1, 2019 (print ed). The real reason that Stephen Moore does not belong on the Federal stephen moore twitterReserve Board is not that he is unqualified for the job, though he is. Nor is it that he has been a highly partisan and divisive figure for many years, though he has been.

The real reason is that, if confirmed by the Senate, Moore, right, could become the Fed chairman — and that is a scary possibility. It could spawn a global financial calamity.

March

March 31

U.S. Politics

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Opinion: I Used to Write Novels. Then Trump Rendered Fiction Redundant, Richard North Patterson (Author of more than 20 novels), March 31, 2019. The president is a fiction writer run amok, the hero of his own impermeable drama.

I’m often asked why I ditched writing novels for political commentary. Usually I respond: “Because Donald Trump rendered fiction redundant.” That may sound glib, but it gets at something profound.

The aim of the novelist is to enlist others in his fantasies, immersing them in an alternative reality so emotionally compelling that they willingly suspend disbelief. Trump has dangerously conflated this sort of storytelling with real-life presidential leadership, casting himself in the role of the archetypal savior-hero, battling the forces of evil. He’s our first novelist in chief.

Like any other best-selling novelist, I had publicists who helped me. But Trump has an army: the media, particularly cable news. In the run-up to his nomination, cable gave Trump $3 billion in free media—effectively, a sustained infomercial consisting of his rallies and rambling press conferences. This open microphone made him unique among all candidates.

Trump used it like a novelist would—to re-create himself as a fictional archetype, the lonely sheriff who drives the bad guys out of town. In his acceptance speech, he proclaimed, “I alone can fix it,” then amplified this in an inaugural address in which he portrayed himself as a gunslinger rescuing a cartoon country. He evoked a national dystopia: cities awash in carnage; sclerotic schools; shuttered factories; predatory nonwhites; the crooked denizens of swampland Washington. Like Gulliver amid the Lilliputians, Trump’s America was a helpless giant tied down by tormentors at home and abroad.

Watching this, I’m reminded of my writing mentor, a very fine novelist who called fiction “a collection of lies which are ultimately true”—by which he meant true to human nature. Trump’s lies are true to his deepest needs and those of his followers.

Richard North Patterson is the author of more than 20 novels, a former chairman of Common Cause, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly a trial lawyer, Patterson served as the SEC liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s aides strangely begin laying the groundwork for him to be a one-term president, Bill Palmer, March 31, 2019. Now that Donald Trump has managed to buy himself a proverbial five minute head start before the Mueller report eventually surfaces and dooms him, we’ve all been looking for signs of what he might do with the brief opportunity. We’ve seen him try to make horribly destructive moves this past week, ranging from health care to the Special Olympics. But that’s just his short term vindictive rage. What’s his longer term plan?

bill palmer report logo headerThat answer may have just arrived in the oddly-placed very last paragraph of an otherwise routine New York Times article. After laying out quote after meaningless quote from unnamed Trump 2020 campaign advisers, we finally end up with the only quote that matters: “After two years in office, Mr. Trump, 72, is tired, aides said. The unstoppable campaigner, so far, will commit to participating in only one campaign event a day, and recently balked at a possible rally out West during a fund-raising swing.” Wait, what?

It’s no surprise that this is the case. All you have to do is observe Donald Trump these days to see that he has no energy left, his physical health is poor, and his cognitive abilities are fraying. But why on earth would Trump’s own people make a point of admitting this to a major newspaper? Even the dumbest of campaigns don’t publicly admit that their candidate is tired and worn out – unless they’re trying to lay the groundwork for that candidate to step aside.

So now we know that there is at least a faction of people within Donald Trump’s inner circle who are trying to lay the groundwork for him being a one-term president. The timing seems surreal, considering he just now finally got himself (falsely, temporarily) exonerated. But perhaps that’s simply Trump’s gameplan: hide behind William Barr to kick his scandals down the road, then announce he’s not seeking reelection, and hope people lose interest in pushing for the Mueller report to publicly surface.

We’ll see. But just because the New York Times overlooked the importance of this quote, and buried it at the end of a lengthy article that most people won’t even finish reading, you shouldn’t overlook it. Trump’s own people just made a point of announcing that they don’t think he’s up for running again. It’s worth watching to see if and how Trump’s people continue pushing this narrative.

Climate Change Damage?

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Breaches Everywhere’: Midwest Levees Burst, and Tough Questions Follow, Mitch Smith and John Schwartz, Photographs by Tim Gruber, March 31, 2019. The widespread, severe flooding in the Midwest over the last month has exposed the vulnerabilities in a levee system that is now so full of holes that many here ruefully describe it as “Swiss cheese.”

With dozens of costly breaks across Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and nearby states, the surging waters have left large areas without even cursory flood protection.

“Breaches everywhere: multiple, multiple breaches,” said Tom Bullock, the top elected official in Holt County, Mo., where crews were rushing last week to patch a leaking levee that, if it failed completely, would flood the small town of Fortescue.

And with the fear of more floods in the coming years — and perhaps even the coming weeks — many people said living and farming near the water might not be viable much longer without major changes.

March 30

Migrant / Foreign Aid Policies

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump plans to cut U.S. aid to 3 Central American countries, Mary Beth Sheridan and Kevin Sieff​, March 30, 2019. The move against El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras deepens White House confrontations with Latin America over a surge in irregular migrations, including asylum seekers and others. Critics say the move is counterproductive and might increase migration.

Barr, Mueller Reports

washington post logoWashington Post, Redacted Mueller report will reach Congress within weeks, Barr says, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian​, March 30, 2019 (print ed.). Special counsel Robert S. william barr new oMueller III’s report, with parts redacted, will be sent to Congress by “mid-April, if not sooner,” Attorney General William P. Barr (right) wrote to lawmakers. It will not be shared with the White House before its release, he wrote.

• Read Barr’s letter detailing plans to deliver Mueller report.

Mother Jones via OpEdNews, Opinion: Here's the Real Trump-Russia Hoax, David Corn (co-authior of Russian Roulette), March 30, 2019. It's Trump defenders and lefty Russia-gate skeptics claiming there is no scandal.

There has been much crowing from Trumpsters on the right and Russia-gate skeptics on the left about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. That is, the three-and-a-half-page letter Attorney General Bill Barr sent to Congress summarizing Mueller's work. (The report itself remains secret and is reportedly over 300 pages.) Pointing to Barr's citation of a single, partial sentence from the report ("[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities"), Trump and his partisans, as well as the small number of lefty Russia-gate deniers, have declared that because Mueller found no direct collaboration, the Trump-Russia scandal is kaput. Some have even declared it was a hoax -- and a gargantuan media con job -- from the start.

These critics are wrong. And here's an easy way to tell whether they are engaging in honest discourse.

djt robert mueller headshotsTwo fundamental facts were established long before Mueller completed his investigation. First, the Russians attacked an American election in order to sow chaos, hurt Hillary Clinton, and help Donald Trump. Second, Trump and his top advisers during the campaign repeatedly denied this attack was underway, echoing and amplifying Moscow disinformation (the false claim that Russia was not attacking). Whether or not the Trumpsters were directly in cahoots with the Russian government, they ran interference for Vladimir Putin's assault on the United States, and they even did so after the intelligence community had briefed Trump on Russia's culpability.

So to determine if the Barr triumphalists are acting in good faith, you need only ask them a simple question: do you accept these basic facts and acknowledge the profound seriousness of each one?

The Russian attack on the 2016 election was an attempt to subvert the foundation of American society: the democratic process. How can Americans have faith in their government, if elections are undermined by secret schemers, including a foreign government? It is certainly arguable that the Russian intervention -- particularly the stealing and drip-drip-drip dumping of the John Podesta emails across the final four weeks of the election -- was one of several decisive factors in a contest that had a narrow and tight finish. Consequently, there is a strong case that Moscow helped shift the course of US history by contributing to the election of Trump. (And recognizing this is not the same as defending Hillary Clinton or concocting an excuse for the Democrats' embarrassing loss to Trump.)

During the campaign and afterward, some Trump backers and some critics on the left, including columnist and media scold Glenn Greenwald, questioned whether the Russians indeed engaged in such skulduggery.

For many of these scandal skeptics, it hasn't seemed to matter that the charge against Moscow has been publicly confirmed by the Obama administration, the US intelligence community (which concluded that Putin's operation intended to help Trump), both Republicans and Democrats on the congressional intelligence committees, and Robert Mueller, who indicted a mess of Russians for participating in this covert operation. True, there often is cause to question officialdom and government sources.

Yet anyone citing the Mueller report, as it is narrowly capsulized by Barr, must also accept his key finding: Russia attacked the United States and intervened in the election. (They must also accept that, as the Barr letter disclosed, Mueller found evidence suggesting Trump obstructed justice but did not reach a final judgment on this question.)

Moscow's intervention was an outrageous action, and concern about this should unite right and left and anyone in between. There is nothing more important in this whole affair than the attack itself.

More On Mueller Report

craig unger djt cover

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s businesses are full of dirty Russian money. The scandal is that it’s legal, Craig Unger (shown above, author of House of Trump, House of Putin and a former contributing editor of Vanity Fair), March 30, 2019 (print edition). Shell companies put figures from Putin’s Mafia into Trump Tower. Should that be worrying?

Collusion or not, President Trump and the Russians are thick as thieves.

djt sergey lavrov sergey kislyak wh may 10 2017 tassWhat I mean is that for more than three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to the Russian Mafia held the deeds to, lived in or ran criminal operations out of Trump Tower in New York or other Trump properties. I mean that many of them used Trump-branded real estate to launder vast amounts of money by buying multimillion-dollar condos through anonymous shell companies. I mean that the Bayrock Group, a real estate development company that was based in Trump Tower and had ties to the Kremlin, came up with a new business model to franchise Trump condos after he lost billions of dollars in his Atlantic City casino developments, and helped make him rich again.

Yet Trump’s relationship with the Russian underworld, a de facto state actor, has barely surfaced in the uproar surrounding Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. That oversight may be explained in part by journalist Michael Kinsley’s long-held maxim: The real scandal isn’t what’s illegal; it’s what is legal.

Robert S. Mueller III, of course, is a prosecutor. His job as special counsel, now complete, was to decide whether to indict. But what if some of the most egregious and corrupt offenses are not illegal? Russian President Vladimir Putin has long insisted that American democracy itself is corrupt. Under his aegis, the Russians have methodically studied various components of the American body politic — campaign finance, our legal system, social media and perhaps especially the real estate industry — and exploited every loophole they could find.

As Oleg Kalugin, a former head of counterintelligence for the KGB, told me in an interview for my book House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia, the Mafia amounts to “one of the branches of the Russian government today.” Where Americans cracked down on the Italian American Mafia, Putin dealt with the Russian mob very differently. He co-opted it. He made it an integral part of his Mafia state. Russian gangsters became, in effect, Putin’s enforcers. They had long and deep relationships. According to a tape recording made by former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko a year before he was fatally poisoned in London, Putin had close ties to Semion Mogilevich, a top mobster, that dated to the early 1990s.

That criminals with ties to Russia bought Trump condos, partnered with Trump and were based at Trump Tower — his home, his place of work, the crown jewel of his empire — should be deeply concerning. It’s not hard to conclude that, as a result, the president, wittingly or not, has long been compromised by a hostile foreign power, even if Mueller did not conclude that Trump colluded or conspired with the Russians.

Let’s go back to 1984, when David Bogatin, an alleged Russian gangster who arrived in the United States a few years earlier with $3 in his pocket, sat down with Trump and bought not one but five condos, for a total of $6 million — about $15 million in today’s dollars. What was most striking about the transaction was that at the time, according to David Cay Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump, Trump Tower was one of only two major buildings in New York City that sold condos to buyers who used shell companies that allowed them to purchase real estate while concealing their identities. Thus, according to the New York state attorney general’s office, when Trump closed the deal with Bogatin, whether he knew it or not, he had just helped launder money for the Russian Mafia.

And so began a 35-year relationship between Trump and Russian organized crime. Mind you, this was a period during which the disintegration of the Soviet Union had opened a fire-hose-like torrent of hundreds of billions of dollars in flight capital from oligarchs, wealthy apparatchiks and mobsters in Russia and its satellites. And who better to launder so much money for the Russians than Trump — selling them multimillion-dollar condos at top dollar, with little or no apparent scrutiny of who was buying them.

washington post logosally yates oWashington Post, Opinion: Sally Yates: William Barr should release the full Mueller report as soon as possible, Sally Yates (right, a Georgetown Law Center professor who served as deputy attorney general from January 2015 to January 2017), March 30, 2019 (print edition).

America’s justice system is built upon one thing — truth. When witnesses give testimony, they are sworn to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The word “verdict” derives from the Latin term “veredictum,” meaning “to say the truth.” Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a public servant with impeccable integrity, was entrusted to find the truth regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election and has spoken through a comprehensive report that details the facts that he uncovered.

Yet a week after Mueller issued his report, we don’t know those facts and have only been provided with Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s estimated 400-page report. It is time for the American people to hear the whole truth. We need to see the report itself.

First, as the attorney general’s letter to Congress notes, the Mueller report “outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts.” Congress has a solemn responsibility to protect our democracy. Without access to the full factual record of what the special counsel uncovered, it cannot fulfill that mandate. As you read this, the Russian government is undoubtedly hard at work to undermine our next election. Each day that passes without Congress having access to the full Mueller report is a day that Congress is prevented from doing its job of keeping our elections free from Russian espionage efforts.

robert mueller full face fileSecond, Barr’s letter leaves important questions unanswered concerning what then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates knew about Russian interference, and how they responded to Russian overtures to assist the campaign. While Barr’s letter states that the investigation did not establish that the campaign reached an agreement with the Russian government to take actions to impact the election in Trump’s favor, it reveals that the campaign did field “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” Yet President Trump and others have repeatedly claimed that they had no contact with Russians, or knowledge that Russians were acting to assist his campaign. Moreover, the Trump campaign did not bring the Russian outreach to the attention of law enforcement but secretly allowed a foreign adversary’s assistance. Remarkably, after the release of the Barr letter — which makes it undeniable that the Russians were seeking to help the Trump campaign — the president still denies it. Why?

Third, until the Mueller report is released by the attorney general, Congress and the American people will not be able to evaluate the president’s conduct with respect to obstruction of justice. Existing Justice Department policy prevents the criminal prosecution of a sitting president. The department’s institutional view is that a congressional hearing room, not a federal courtroom, is the proper forum for the evaluation of presidential misconduct. According to Barr’s letter, the Mueller report details evidence of potentially obstructive conduct, but it does not reveal what that evidence comprises. Until Congress is provided the full report, it cannot evaluate the seriousness of the evidence. And we, the American people, cannot make our own evaluation.

March 29

Barr, Mueller Reports

washington post logoWashington Post, Redacted Mueller report will reach Congress within weeks, Barr says, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian​, March 29, 2019. Special counsel Robert S. william barr new oMueller III’s report, with parts redacted, will be sent to Congress by “mid-April, if not sooner,” Attorney General William P. Barr (right) wrote to lawmakers. It will not be shared with the White House before its release, he wrote.

• Read Barr’s letter detailing plans to deliver Mueller report. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Saudi, U.S. insiders describe intelligence deals frozen and an alliance rocked by Khashoggi’s killing, David Ignatius, March 29, 2019. Until Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman provides real answers about the killing of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S.-Saudi military and intelligence partnership is likely to remain in limbo.

washington post logoDonald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Washington Post, How Trump dodged a special counsel interview — and a subpoena fight, Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky, March 29, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s legal team, fearful he would perjure himself, conducted an extensive pressure campaign to keep him from coming face-to-face with investigators.

• Washington Post, Democrats: It’s a ‘coverup’ if attorney general redacts grand jury information in Mueller report, March 28, 2019.
• Washington Post, Pelosi urges Democrats to take a ‘deep breath’ — and takes charge of her party, March 28, 2019.

March 28

allen weisselberg djt carolyn kepcher

Donald Trump, flanked by Trump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Carolyn Kepcher in a publicit photo, has reportedly pretended during his "reality" show "The Apprentice" and more currently to have vast wealth far beyond the reality, according to a new financial analysis by the Washington Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump inflated his net worth to lenders and investors, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, March 28, 2019. As a businessman, Donald Trump used unusual financial statements to exaggerate his wealth and hide his debts, documents reviewed by the Post show. These documents are now central to investigations looking at his business.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he won’t cut Special Olympics budget, Laura Meckler, March 28, 2019. President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, right, had proposed betsy devos oeliminating all of the $17.6 million in federal funding for the organization, which gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete in athletic contests.

President Trump said Thursday he wants the federal government to continue funding the Special Olympics, an abrupt reversal from his own budget proposal that eliminated federal money for the charity and sparked bipartisan condemnation.

His statement on the South Lawn of the White House came after his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, spent three days defending the proposal, most recently at a contentious Senate hearing Thursday morning.

Barr Report / Mueller Report

william barr image by donkehotey dmca

Attorney General William P. Barr (image by Donkehotey via DCMA)

Palmer Report, Opinion: People who know Robert Mueller say they’re confused about what’s happening, Cheryl Kelley, March 28, 2019. James Comey, and just about everyone else who has worked with Robert Mueller, has been speaking out this week on the four-page Barr report. They all have the same reaction, utter confusion. So many things about the four-robert mueller full face filepage report are out of character for the way Mueller normally closes investigations.

First, no one can understand how or why Mueller (right) would shirk his prosecutorial responsibility to make a decision about obstruction of justice charges against Trump. Many people have pointed out that the point of having a Special Counsel is to take difficult decisions about an investigation out of the hands of political appointees. The Barr report implies that Mueller passed off this critical decision back to the very political appointees he was hired to keep out of the process.

bill palmer report logo headerAlso, too much was left undone, and it is specifically the heaviest lifts that Mueller seems to have passed along to others. Mueller’s team brought charges like perjury against multiple people. However, evidence in the public domain indicates there is enough evidence to bring similar charges against Don Jr, and Jared Kushner. To pass these cases to unknown prosecutors inside the DOJ, or to abandon them entirely, is surprising.

Mueller’s fine reputation, strength of character, and public attention provided him some level of protection against the enormous pressure that comes with filing charges against the children of the President of the United States. An unknown prosecutor deep inside DOJ could be admonished, reprimanded or fired without much media attention. As Special counsel, Robert Mueller had far more power to withstand the pressure than any prosecutor he would hand off his cases to.

nra logo CustomFinally, there still appear to be active cases involving Russian collusion. Maria Butina has not been sentenced because she is still cooperating. Presumably, her testimony is related to alleged Russian money that was given to the NRA and then to the RNC. Rick Gates is likewise still cooperating and presumably has information about the same financial transactions. There is also a second case against Roger Stone that was referenced in a court filing. This presumably has to do with his contacts with Wikileaks. This brings us to the accidentally leaked information about Julian Assange (shown in an image by The Indicter website) and the active criminal case against him. This julian assange indicter imagecase should involve Russian collusion.

Yet, because of the Barr memo, pundits everywhere are saying that Trump-Russia collusion is done and over. This just doesn’t make sense. None of it makes sense, and this week everyone who has worked with Robert Mueller is saying so. So, where is Mueller? If he has been misrepresented, why isn’t he speaking out yet? Something doesn’t add up, and sooner or later we are going to find out about it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Report Exceeds 300 Pages, Raising Questions About Four-Page Summary, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, March 28, 2019.  Attorney General William Barr shared his “principal conclusions” with Congress on Sunday, but had declined to disclose the report’s length.

The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mr. Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Belligerence, shamelessness and partisanship can take you far, Jamelle Bouie, March 28, 2019. Watergate, the modern template for an impeachment-worthy scandal, has informed much of the coverage of the Russia scandal, from congressional inquiries to the special counsel’s investigation into President Trump and his campaign. Central questions — Did the president conspire to illegally influence the election? Did he obstruct justice? — have clear antecedents in Watergate. And Trump himself bears more than a slight resemblance to Richard Nixon at his most paranoid and intransigent.

But while Trump’s belligerent and at times bizarre behavior may mirror that of his predecessor, he is operating in a vastly different political context than Nixon was in the 1970s. Then, the Republican Party had an influential moderate faction willing to work with Democrats. Now it’s synonymous with the right-wing. Then, fact-finding produced public consensus and eventually pushed Republicans to do the right thing. Now it heightens the partisan divide.

For this and other reasons, the Watergate example doesn’t fit the circumstances of the moment. But Iran-contra, the major scandal of the Reagan administration, does.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the precise page count of the Robert Mueller report is so crucial, Bill Palmer, March 28, 2019. Even as Donald Trump’s handpicked Attorney General William Barr continues to try to convince us all that we only need to see his cartoonish four page “summary” of the Robert Mueller report, a free for all has broken out with regard to the Mueller report’s precise page count. Is it seven hundred pages? Is it a thousand pages? Believe it or not, the precise number of pages is going to end up mattering greatly.

bill palmer report logo headerThe back and forth began on Tuesday when Andrew Napolitano of Fox News kept referring to the Mueller report as being seven hundred pages long. This led to debate as to whether Napolitano knew something the rest of us didn’t, or if he was simply picking a number. In turn, the media ended up asking House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler if he knew how long the Mueller report was. He said that Barr did tell him the precise page length, but he wasn’t prepared to announce it yet. When a reporter asked Nadler if it was less than a thousand pages, Nadler said yes. So why does this matter?

In the broadest terms, the length of the Mueller report is important because it tells us how much dirt Mueller found. If his entire report for his two-year investigation is very short, let’s say twenty-five pages, it would suggest he didn’t find all that much. But if Mueller’s report is hundreds and hundreds of pages long, it would suggest that he found a whole lot of ugly details. But in the more narrow sense, does it matter if the report is 700 pages long vs 1000 pages long? Actually, yes.

March 27

U.S. Politics: Health Care

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump surprises Republicans, pleases Democrats with push for health-care battle, Toluse Olorunnipa and Seung Min Kim, March 27, 2019 (print ed.). A surprise move by the Trump administration aimed at striking down the Affordable Care Act thrust the partisan battle over health care into the middle of the 2020 campaign on Tuesday, handing Democrats a potential political gift on an issue that damaged Republicans badly in last year’s midterm elections.

republican elephant logoIn a new court filing, the Justice Department (under President Trump's new Attorney General William Barr) argued that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, should be thrown out in its entirety, including provisions protecting millions of Americans with preexisting health conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health-care plans.

President Trump praised the move during a lunch with Senate Republicans, and suggested the GOP should embrace a new congressional battle over health-care policy ahead of the 2020 elections.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: William Barr is playing an even more dangerous game than we thought, Bill Palmer, March 27, 2019. Donald Trump’s handpicked new Attorney General William Barr showed us exactly who he is when he issued a “summary” of the Robert Mueller report that’s quickly being exposed as a fraud and a coverup. But it turns out Barr is even more dangerous, and more devious than we thought – and he appears to be playing for Team Barr even more so than Team Trump.

Immediately after William Barr offered Donald Trump a temporary reprieve from his dying presidency, Trump turned around and made the most nihilistic move he could think of: he instructed Barr’s Department of Justice to take the legal position that the Affordable Care bill palmer report logo headerAct should be struck down entirely.

If this effort succeeds, tens of millions of people will lose their health insurance, and the entire American health care system could collapse. Trump clearly wants to destroy President Obama’s legacy just that badly, or he wants revenge on America in general, or something. But it’s Barr who’s playing the most dangerous game here.

Last night, Politico reported that William Barr actually opposes the move to end Obamacare, and fought against it, but Donald Trump ordered him to do it anyway. Here’s the thing about this report: no way on earth would this information surface unless Barr wanted it out there. He has to have indirectly fed this to the media. So what’s he doing?

Barr just publicly threw Trump under the bus on the Obamacare move. Because Trump is so insulated from real news sources, he’ll probably never even hear that Barr sold him out on this. Barr – if anyone actually falls for this – gets to be seen as the guy who wished he could save everyone’s health care.

It’s a matter of time before Barr’s hand is forced on the Mueller report. Is Barr planning to feed Trump to the wolves on that too, while trying to paint himself as the hero is the matter? Is Barr trying to set himself up to be even more powerful if Trump is ousted? This keeps getting more grotesque, and more complicated.

Barr / Mueller Reports

george conway twitterwashington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is guilty — of being unfit for office, George T. Conway III (right, a New York lawyer who is married to President Trump's senior counselor Kellyanne Conway), March 27, 2019 (print ed.). Very little was surprising about the conclusion of the special counsel’s investigation. For one thing, it wasn’t surprising that Robert S. Mueller III’s probe prompted great commotion — a federal investigation involving a sitting president is a momentous event, and concluding it, a historic moment.

And most, but not all, of the details in the attorney general’s letter of “principal conclusions” were unsurprising as well.

Let’s start with question of “collusion.” It was never precisely clear what that nonlegal concept meant. If it means what Mueller reasonably took it to mean — an “agreement,” “tacit or express,” with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, or, in effect, a conspiracy with the Russians — then it was always virtually unimaginable that collusion, so defined, would ever be found. Russian agents didn’t need Americans to help them do what they were doing — hacking and posting disinformation. If anything, involving Americans, including some apparently blockish ones, could only have fouled up their plans. “Collusion” — or, rather, “no collusion” — was bound to become a straw man for President Trump and his supporters to knock down with glee.

Yet that hardly means that the investigation (which, thanks to Paul Manafort’s largesse, actually turned a neat profit) was either a “witch hunt” or a waste of time. After all, it was a counterintelligence investigation as well as a criminal probe. A core objective — the overarching one, really — was to find out exactly what the Russians were doing. Another was to find out whether there were “links” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s activities.

As matters turned out, and quite surprisingly, we now know from public sources that there were links aplenty. So who knows what we might learn on these subjects from Mueller’s still-unreleased report? As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday, “Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing.” He added that he would “welcome” the special counsel’s contributions toward understanding them.

March 26

Barr, Mueller Reports

william barr letter mueller report

washington post logoWashington Post, Dispute erupts over Mueller’s findings, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig and John Wagner, March 26, 2019 (print ed.). The top two Justice Department officials determined that evidence was insufficient to allege President Trump had obstructed justice, sparking concerns that they rushed to a judgment no one asked them to make.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: William Barr: Cover-up and pardon maestro, Wayne Madsen, March 26, 2019 (subscription lawrence walshrequired). Attorney General William Barr, holding the same job he held during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, was hired for his first term as America’s chief law enforcement official because he was known as a consummate cover-up artist and clean-up man.

Much can be determined about Barr’s commitment to transparency and full disclosure from an individual who bore some of the same responsibilities as Special Counsel Robert Mueller. That person was Lawrence Walsh, a lifelong Republican who had served as a judge on the federal bench for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and as Deputy Attorney under President Dwight Eisenhower.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: No Coordination. Lots of Corruption, Michelle Goldberg, March 26, 2019 (print ed.). The Mueller investigation michelle goldberg thumbis over, and the only people close to Donald Trump who have been criminally charged are his former campaign chairman, former deputy campaign chairman, former personal lawyer, former national security adviser, former campaign foreign policy adviser and Roger Stone, the president’s longtime friend and strategist.

The report written by the special counsel Robert Mueller (shown below), according to a quotation in a brief summary issued by Attorney General William Barr, says that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Naturally, the president and his allies are claiming, as one of Trump’s tweets said, “Complete and Total EXONERATION.”

robert mueller full face fileI won’t pretend that the weekend’s news was not very good for Trump and dispiriting for those of us who despise him. Whatever else is in the Mueller report, it says, according to Barr, that the investigation “did not establish” that anyone from the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its 2016 election interference. The overtures we all know about — the Trump Tower meeting, Trump’s public call for Russia to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails, which Russian hackers tried to do that very day — were not part of a crime, or at least not part of a crime that the special counsel could prove.

Until the Mueller report is publicly released, however, it’s impossible to tell how much of Trump’s victory is substantive and how much is spin. The report, evidently, leaves open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is off to the races, Bill Palmer, March 26, 2019. Now that Donald Trump’s newly handpicked Attorney General William Barr has falsely spun the still-secret Robert Mueller report in pro-Trump fashion, and a number of major news outlets have played along by falsely reporting Barr’s words as if they were Mueller’s words, Donald Trump has decided that he’s been fully exonerated. More to the point, he clearly feels emboldened – and he’s moving in a dangerously ugly direction at rapid speed.

bill palmer report logo headerIn the day and a half since Donald Trump falsely announced that he’s been exonerated, his Department of Justice has suddenly announced that it’ll go into court to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Trump’s Pentagon has suddenly announced that it’s found $1 billion for Trump to begin building his border wall. Trump’s campaign has given TV news networks a list of people who are supposed to be banned from the air. His flunky Lindsey Graham just announced that he’ll seek a new Special Counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton. And Trump tweeted last night about his desire to have President Obama investigated for some gibberish or other.

Many or even most of these moves will either fall flat of their own accord, be defeated in court, or end up backfiring. But this is where Donald Trump’s head is at now. He’s been falsely, temporarily given a reprieve. Instead of using this window of opportunity to try to make something of his failed presidency, he’s decided to use it to pander to his base and seek petty revenge on those who have dared to expose his corruption. It’s as if Trump has decided to try to prove to mainstream Americans that he’s every bit as awful as they’ve always believed.

What’s not clear is if Donald Trump truly thinks that William Barr’s cartoonish stunt has actually gotten him off the hook for his endless list of criminal scandals, or if Trump understands that Mueller’s report will surface and destroy him eventually. If it’s the latter, Trump may be trying to finish off America with the finite window of time he has left. House Democrats will have their hands on the Mueller report before much longer, because they’ve never had a larger priority. These next weeks may be among the most important – and perilous – in American history.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Has "Cover-Up General" William Barr Struck Again? Thom Hartmann, March 26, 2019. Barr's history of helping Republican presidents in legal crises may explain why Trump brought him back in to head the Justice Department

Back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as "Coverup-General Barr" because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush's involvement in "Iraqgate" and "Iron-Contra."

General Barr has struck again -- this time, in similar fashion, burying Mueller's report and cherry-picking fragments of sentences from it to justify Trump's behavior. In his letter, he notes that Robert Mueller "leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime."

As attorney general, Barr -- without showing us even a single complete sentence from the Mueller report -- decided there are no crimes here. Just keep moving along.

Barr's history of doing just this sort of thing to help Republican presidents in legal crises explains why Trump brought him back in to head the Justice Department.

Christmas day of 1992, the New York Times featured a screaming all-caps headline across the top of its front page: Attorney General Bill Barr had covered up evidence of crimes by Reagan and Bush in the Iran-Contra scandal.
- Advertisement -

Earlier that week of Christmas, 1992, George H.W. Bush was on his way out of office. Bill Clinton had won the White House the month before, and in a few weeks would be sworn in as president.

But Bush's biggest concern wasn't that he'd have to leave the White House to retire back to Connecticut, Maine, or Texas (where he had homes) but, rather, that he may end up embroiled even deeper in Iran-Contra and that his colleagues may face time in a federal prison after he left office.

Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh was closing in fast on him, and Bush's private records, subpoenaed by the independent counsel's office, were the key to it all.

Walsh had been appointed independent counsel in 1986 to investigate the Iran-Contra activities of the Reagan administration and determine if crimes had been committed.

Was the Iran-Contra criminal conspiracy limited, as Reagan and Bush insisted (and Reagan confessed on TV), to later years in the Reagan presidency, in response to a hostage-taking in Lebanon? Or had it started in the 1980 campaign with collusion with the Iranians, as the then-president of Iran asserted? Who knew what, and when? And what was George H.W. Bush's role in it all?

Walsh had zeroed in on documents that were in the possession of Reagan's former defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, who all the evidence showed was definitely in on the deal, and President Bush's diary that could corroborate it. Elliott Abrams had already been convicted of withholding evidence from Congress, and he may have even more information, too, if it could be pried out of him before he went to prison. But Abrams was keeping mum, apparently anticipating a pardon.

washington post logoWashington Post, With probe over, Trump and his allies switch from defense to bruising offense, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, March 26, 2019 (print ed.). Relief turned into defiant glee as the president and his allies realized they could wield the broad findings of the Mueller probe as a political cudgel.

March 25

rachel maddow lawrence odonnell

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell just provided a roadmap for defeating the Trump-Barr coverup, Bill Palmer, March 25, 2019. Just what is it in the Mueller report that Donald Trump and his newly handpicked Attorney General William Barr are conspiring to hide? Whatever it is, they’re doing a fairly amateur job of trying to cover it up, thanks to Barr’s almost comically glowing “summary” of the report. The real question is what we, as a nation, do next to help justice prevail. Fortunately, we just got it handed to us.

bill palmer report logo headerIn the thirty hours since William Barr released his faux-summary, large chunks of the media have been repeating Barr’s words as if they were reliable, with many headlines even going so far as to falsely claim that Barr’s words were Mueller’s words. This has been nothing short of journalistic malpractice on a stunning level. Fortunately, on Monday night, cooler and smarter heads began to prevail. That’s when, after a painfully inept stretch for the media in general, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell (shown above) returned to the air.

Maddow started off by using her Monday night show to lay out fifteen questions about what’s really going on here. She used these questions to spell out in detail why Barr’s “summary” and his actions are extraordinarily suspicious, and what Robert Mueller might have really been trying to do when Barr hijacked things from him. If you haven’t yet watched it, you should. For that matter, so should every political journalist and analyst out there who has been botching this so badly.

Then came Lawrence O’Donnell, who opened his show by pointedly calling out the media for pretending that the Barr summary is the Mueller report, and other journalistic sins. One can only hope that the points he raised tonight might prompt others in his profession to start doing their jobs correctly. If America handles this situation correctly, the Barr stunt won’t get Donald Trump very far – but we’ve all got to collectively pull ourselves together.

March 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney general: Mueller does not find that Trump campaign conspired with Russia, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, March 24, 2019. Special counsel ‘did not draw a conclusion . . . as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,’ Barr says.

A summary of Robert S. Mueller III’s findings was sent to lawmakers. On the question of whether the president might have sought to obstruct the high-profile investigation, “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’,” the attorney general said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Read: Attorney general’s principal conclusions of the Mueller report, March 24, 2019. Photos: Mueller in Washington after delivering his report.

nancy pelosi djt

Speaker of the House, Pelosi, Schumer Joint Statement On Attorney General Barr’s Summary Of The Mueller Report, March 24, 2019. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown above in a file photo with of President Trump) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released the following statement regarding Attorney General Barr’s summary of the Mueller report:

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers.  The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.  Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.

“And most obviously, for the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility.

“Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise.  The American people have a right to know.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats ‘absolutely’ willing to head to Supreme Court to release full report, Nadler says, Felicia Sonmez, Rachael Bade, Paul Kane and Paul Sonne, March 24, 2019. Lawmakers say it is too early to raise the specter of impeachment but suggested they are keeping their options open.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s proof that William Barr is taking Robert Mueller’s report out of context, Bill Palmer, March 24, 2019. When Donald Trump’s handpicked Attorney General William Barr released a four page “summary” today of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, it felt wildly at odds with everything Mueller was investigating about Trump, and everything that we’ve seen play out in plain sight. Now it turns out there’s semantic proof that Barr has indeed taken Mueller’s Report out of context.

bill palmer report logo headerPalmer Report readers know that I can be critical of MSNBC during its most histrionic moments. But host Ari Melber nailed it this evening when he noticed something remarkable about Barr’s summary. Despite being four pages long, it didn’t quote a single full sentence from Mueller. Why is this important?

Imagine you’ve been given a very lengthy secret report. Your task is to summarize it for the public, in a way that’s going to give the public confidence that you’re being honest about what’s really in the secret report, and you have no limit on how long your summary can be. You’re going to make a point of quoting the secret report as directly as possible, particularly when it comes to the key points that the report makes.

Instead, William Barr did the precise opposite. Each time he quoted the Mueller report, he cherry picked sentence fragments, and never did include a complete sentence. In other words, he clearly took those fragments out of context. His only reason to chop up Mueller’s words so finely would be to try to alter their meaning. This “summary” is bogus. House Democrats will seize the real Mueller report soon enough.

william barr image by donkehotey dmca

Attorney General William P. Barr (image by Donkehotey via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Opinion: Impeach William Barr if he doesn't release the Mueller report, Michael Collins, March 24, 2019. Barr can't be Trump's oenearthlogonew Michael Cohen. United States Attorney General William Barr is acting as though he has a choice about releasing the Mueller report. He doesn't. Unless Barr wants to live in infamy as a disgraced enabler of the mad and corrupt president, He needs to fulfill his constitutional duty and release the report in its entirety. If he fails to do so, he should be impeached.

In the Department of Justice Order that initiated the investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated that the purpose of special counsel investigation was to "ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election."

The question of Russian interference in the 2016 election affects all citizens. This scope amplifies the meaning of Part 600 - General Powers of the Special Counsel, Code of Federal Regulations. The Special Counsel must deliver a confidential report to the U.S. Attorney General. At that point, "The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions" 600.9 - Notification and reports by the Attorney General.
- Advertisement -

It couldn't be more obvious. The integrity of our democratic republic is the critical subject of inquiry and, given the overriding importance of that subject, the public interest must be served.

Why would we think Bill Barr would withhold the report? Because he told us so in his confirmation hearing.

Barr tried to come off as calm and thoughtful when answering questions. Despite his demeanor, he offered everything we need to know about his intentions. He accepted the notion that a sitting president cannot be indicted in a criminal case. There is no such restriction on presidential indictments in the Constitution. That doesn't bother Barr. He bases his opinion on a 1973 Nixon Department of Justice memo that somehow rationalized this position. Barr also informed us that if confirmed, he would not report on anything other than indictments.

Professor Alan J. Lichtman of American University summarized the ugly truth behind Barr's position in the confirmation hearings:

"Here is the Catch-22. Barr won't authorize an indictment of the president, but he is opposed to commenting on investigations absent indictments." Spectator USA 01/16/2019

Without hesitation or a scintilla of embarrassment, Barr gave the public a clear message I decide what gets released and unless there's an indictment, nothing gets published. He left out the need for full transparency based on the defined mission of the Special Counsels effort: "to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election" and "determine" the obvious that "the release of these reports would be in the public interest."

Impeaching a Cabinet Member

Cabinet members may be impeached on the same grounds as the president and vice president. The three broad categories of impeachable offenses are: "(1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or personal gain" (Congressional Research Service, 10/29/2015).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A timeline of what we’ve learned so far about Russia and the Trump campaign, Philip Bump, March 24, 2019. The information relevant to the moment stretches back more than a decade. Over the course of the past two years,

The Washington Post has compiled timelines documenting what is known about various aspects of the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, interactions between President Trump’s campaign and Russian individuals, and ancillary activity that resulted in criminal charges obtained by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

As we’ve learned more, those timelines have grown and become more detailed. The sheer complexity of the intertwining stories, though, means that moments of overlap can be missed. So, with the final report from Mueller’s team still behind closed doors, we’ve gathered elements from all of our timelines into one grand timeline, providing a broader sense of what we’ve learned.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Justice Department, Attorney General Barr is viewed as ‘a lawyer’s lawyer,’ Aaron Gregg, March 24, 2019. Once again, William P. Barr is at the center of a protracted and politicized investigation that has dominated his time in office.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Nobody I wanted to see in trouble seems as if they’re in trouble’: Some Democratic voters are disappointed, David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz, March 24, 2019. The special counsel’s findings have not yet been made public, but the fact that the investigation ended without any further indictments has Republicans declaring victory.

Next Steps For DOJ Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Benjamin robert mueller screenshot washington postWeiser and Maggie Haberman, March 24, 2019 (print ed.). The work by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (right), may be done, but prosecutors in Manhattan and elsewhere are pursuing about a dozen other investigations. It all but ensures that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Awaiting Mueller’s findings, Trump allies claim victory and Democrats urge transparency, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, March 24, 2019 (print ed.). The political showdown over the Russia investigation began in earnest Saturday even before the special counsel’s conclusions were known to the public. Attorney General William P. Barr spent the day privately reviewing Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats vow to pursue Trump probes no matter what Mueller finds, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane, March 24, 2019 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for full disclosure of the special counsel’s report and said she would reject a classified briefing for a select few lawmakers.

washington post logoWashington Post, After claiming ‘no collusion’ at least 231 times, Trump says nothing about the end of the Mueller investigation, JM Rieger, March 24, 2019 ((print ed. with video).

March 23

Next Steps For DOJ Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman, March 23, 2019. The work by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, may be done, but prosecutors in Manhattan and elsewhere are pursuing about a dozen other investigations. It all but ensures that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller has farmed out Trump-related investigations to SDNY and six other federal prosecutorial entities, Bill Palmer, March 23, 2019. Anyone with a basic familiarity with Robert Mueller’s investigation knows that “no more indictments from Mueller” doesn’t mean “no more indictments.” With his own investigation ending, it turns out Mueller has farmed out investigations to at least seven federal prosecutorial entities in total.

bill palmer report logo headerRobert Mueller has farmed things out to 1) the SDNY, which handles federal cases in Manhattan, 2) the EDNY, which handles federal cases in Brooklyn, 3) the EDVA in Virginia, 4) the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, 5) the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington DC, 6) the DOJ National Security Division, and 7) the DOJ Criminal Division. This is all according to a new report today from the New York Times. So what does this tell us?

Some of these are outright referrals for criminal prosecution, while others are referrals of evidence and witnesses. But these are all instances of Robert Mueller giving these seven federal prosecutorial entities the tools they need to investigate and indict. Because

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

Mueller’s investigation was into Donald Trump and his campaign, it’s a given that all of these investigations are Trump-related. But how many of them are directly focused on Trump and his people?

This sentence from the New York Times would seem to sum it up rather succinctly: “Most of the investigations focus on President Trump or his family business or a cadre of his advisers and associates.”

So now we know Mueller has equipped seven different federal prosecutorial bodies to carry out investigations and indictments, and “most” of those investigations focused specifically on Donald Trump, his family, and his people. In other words, the people on Team Trump who are celebrating right now are merely suffering from a lack of understanding about how prosecutions work.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney general won’t release Mueller conclusions today, Justice official says, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett​, March 23, 2019. Attorney General William P. Barr intends to spend the weekend reviewing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on his investigation into President Trump and Russia’s election interference, a senior Justice Department official said Saturday, indicating it would be at least another day until the probe’s findings would be shared with Congress.

rod rosenstein head croppedBarr and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, right, were at the Justice Department Saturday morning, where they and their key advisers were assessing Mueller’s work and developing a summary of conclusions to provide lawmakers.

“They’re working basically hand in hand,” the official said on condition of anonymity to share general insights about the attorney general’s process, adding that very few people know the report’s contents.

The attorney general announced Friday that Mueller’s work had come to an end, and Barr spent the afternoon and early evening in his fifth-floor office reading the special counsel’s final report — which one Justice Department official described as a “comprehensive” document.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s legal troubles are far from over even as Mueller probe ends, David A. Fahrenthold and Rosalind S. Helderman, March 23, 2019 (print ed.). Nearly every organization Trump has run in the last decade remains under investigation by state or federal authorities

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘If you took it all in in one day, it would kill you’: What Mueller’s investigation has already revealed, Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman, March 23, 2019 (print ed.). He pulled back the curtain on a sophisticated Kremlin hacking operation — identifying by name the 12 Russian military officers who he said sought to sway a U.S. election.

Justice Department log circularHe exposed a Russian online influence campaign — bringing criminal charges against the 13 members of a Russian troll farm now accused of trying to manipulate U.S. voters and sow division through fake social media personae.

And he revealed how those closest to President Trump defrauded banks, cheated on their taxes and, time and time again, lied to deflect inquiries into their ties with Russia.

After 22 months of meticulous investigation, charges against 34 people — including six former Trump aides or confidants — and countless hours of all-consuming news coverage, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Friday submitted the long-anticipated report on his findings to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Barr said in a letter to lawmakers that he may be able to inform Congress of Mueller’s “principal conclusions” as early as this weekend.

It’s not clear whether or when Mueller’s full report will become public — or how his conclusions might impact Trump’s presidency.

Barr said he plans to consult with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to determine “what other information from the report” could be made public.

But through legal documents and court hearings, Mueller has already revealed rich details about the Russian attack on U.S. democracy in 2016 — and his investigation has triggered unpredictable ripple effects.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, ‘We will fight’: Democrats prepare to battle for Mueller’s complete findings, Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade​, ​March 23, 2019 (print ed.). Lawmakers are looking to the special counsel’s findings to inform their investigations — and insist they will be satisfied with nothing short of a complete account of the results and the evidence that informed them.

washington post logoWashington Post, After lashing out for months, a combative Trump awaits Mueller’s findings, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, March 23, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s actions in office, including his firing of the FBI director, were scrutinized as possible obstructions of justice.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Three ways we know more indictments in Robert Mueller’s investigation are still coming from other prosecutors, Bill Palmer, March 23, 2019.  Yesterday afternoon I was rather hard on MSNBC for its initial coverage of the news that the Robert Mueller report had been submitted, particularly when Senator Richard Blumenthal tried to explain on-air that more indictments were likely coming from the bill palmer report logo headerlikes of SNDY, and he was cut off mid sentence, because it didn’t fit the host’s narrative. As the evening went on, other MSNBC hosts did a much better job of acknowledging that more Mueller-spawned indictments could be on the way. Still, little was laid out about how we know more indictments are coming. We can count at least three different ways.

1) Redactions: Nearly all of Robert Mueller’s lengthy court filing three months ago about Michael Flynn’s cooperation was blacked out, which means that it involved ongoing criminal cases.

2) Grand juries: Yesterday, Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller informed the Atlantic that Mueller’s office still wants him to testify about Stone before a grand jury. Grand juries only have one purpose, which is to deliver indictments.

3) New hires: The SDNY, which would be in jurisdictional position to bring many of the additional Trump-related federal indictments, just hired a heavy hitter yesterday to serve as its new number two.

U.S. Politics

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi’s grandmaster chess game against Donald Trump, Robert Harrington, March 23, 2019. Robert Mueller is releasing his report without further indictments. He doesn’t have to. Mueller has referred out numerous cases to other US Attorneys’ offices for indictments. Expect many more prosecutions.

bill palmer report logo headerOnce the Mueller Report is published, complete with expected redactions for national security purposes, it is almost certainly going to be thoroughly devastating for Donald Trump. The report will prove to be, effectively, Donald Trump’s political and personal epitaph. It will establish beyond question Trump’s criminal collusion with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election.

Nancy Pelosi (shown above with Trump in file photos) knows all this already, and that is why she has taken impeachment of Donald Trump off the table for now. Democratic candidates for president in 2020 will use the Mueller report to destroy Donald Trump.

If Trump remains the only Republican candidate in 2020 then the Mueller Report will become the handbook, the Bible, that every Democratic candidate running against him can and will use — in debates, in advertisements, in interviews, and that will be a Bible that Donald Trump can’t sign. In effect, Democrats need Donald Trump to remain exactly, precisely where he is until November of 2020, so they can use the Mueller Report to destroy and defeat him utterly.

If the Republicans have any sense, and there is nothing to suggest that they have any, they would be drafting articles of impeachment against Donald Trump even as we speak. A lone Republican Trump candidacy, that is almost predestined to lose in 2020, may very well spell the end of the Republican Party as a separate autonomous entity, at least the party as we recognize it today.

Should the GOP mount a 2020 challenger against Trump, then Trump will probably remain true to his narcissistic roots, refuse to resign, and further splinter his own party, sowing seeds of destruction from within so devastating that the GOP may never recover from it. The only option open to them is to impeach Trump and mount a new candidate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chris Christie praises Gov. Larry Hogan but says a GOP primary run against Trump is impractical, Rachel Chason, March 24, 2019 (print ed.). Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie says his friend Larry Hogan, Maryland’s governor, has a “very bright” future in national politics but is not joining the effort by some centrist Republicans to draft Hogan to challenge President Trump in a 2020 GOP primary.

chris christie cover let me finishChristie offered his thoughts Thursday during an early-evening appearance with Hogan at Government House, the governor’s official residence. Christie was in Annapolis as part of a tour to promote a book [shown at right] about his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination in 2016 and his subsequent stint with the Trump campaign. From the mansion, the men headed to the Annapolis Yacht Club, where Hogan introduced Christie at an event that included a discussion and book signing.

Christie said he sees no current path for a successful primary challenge, noting Trump’s strong support among Republican voters. Hogan has repeatedly said the same. But Christie and Hogan, Republicans who won reelection in blue states, said the political landscape could change quickly.
Christie, a longtime friend to Trump who was pushed out as chair of his transition team, said he still speaks with the president regularly and supports many of his policies.

But Christie nonetheless heaped praise on Trump’s possible rival, saying it was “love at first sight” in 2014 when he met Hogan, then a businessman running an underdog campaign for governor. Christie described Hogan as a practical leader who is capable of bringing people together.

washington post logoWashington Post, After lashing out for months, a combative Trump awaits Mueller’s findings, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, March 23, 2019 (print ed.). The president’s actions in office, including his firing of the FBI director, were scrutinized as possible obstructions of justice.

March 22

Mueller Report

Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller just pulled off a victory in plain sight and almost everyone missed it, Bill Palmer, March 22, 2019.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report tonight, bringing an end to his role in the criminal investigation into Donald Trump. This is being widely spun by pundits as some kind of defeat, because Mueller isn’t (directly) indicting anyone else. But in actuality, Mueller just pulled off a victory in plain sight and no one noticed.

bill palmer report logo headerFor the past year we’ve been hearing from these same pundits about how Donald Trump was going to find a way to fire Robert Mueller before he could complete his work and file his report. Guess what? That didn’t happen. Instead, Mueller managed to make it all the way to the finish line. He got to finish the job and file his report, after so much hype about how he would never get to this point.

Now these same pundits are spinning a doomsday tale about how the Attorney General is going to run it through a shredder and then everyone is just going to give up and move on. But that’s not remotely realistic at this point. The public has an overwhelming appetite to see the report, and House Democrats have a number of ways to force it to become public if the AG does try to play any games.

peter baker twitterny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Once released, the Mueller report will transform the political landscape, our correspondent writes in an analysis, Peter Baker (shown in Twitter photo at right), March 22, 2019. After nearly three years of investigation, after hundreds of interviews and thousands upon thousands of pages of documents, after scores of indictments and court hearings and guilty pleas, after endless hours of cable-television and dinner-table speculation, the moment of reckoning has arrived.

It will be a reckoning for President Trump, to be sure, but also for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for Congress, for Democrats, for Republicans, for the news media and, yes, for the system as a whole. The delivery of Mr. Mueller’s report to the Justice Department on Friday marked a turning point that will shape the remainder of Mr. Trump’s presidency and test the viability of American governance.

Washington has been waiting for Mr. Mueller’s findings for so long and invested in them so much that it may be hard for what he has delivered to live up to the breathless anticipation. But once released, the Mueller report will transform the political landscape, fueling calls for the president’s impeachment or providing him fodder to claim vindication — or possibly, in this live-in-your-own-reality moment, both at the same time.

Democrats on Friday played down the notion that the report would be the final word, fearing that anything less than a bombshell would undercut their own drive to investigate Mr. Trump not only on Russia’s election interference but on the myriad other subjects that have drawn their attention. Mr. Trump, for his part, had engaged in a particularly manic Twitter spree lately, assailing the “witch hunt” and the “hoax” and everyone he blames for them, like his fellow Republicans John McCain and Jeff Sessions, in what some had interpreted as a sign of his own anxiety before the special counsel’s verdict. But he was reported to appear relieved with early reports on Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s legal troubles are far from over even as Mueller probe ends, David A. Fahrenthold and Rosalind S. Helderman, March 22, 2019. Nearly every organization Trump has run in the last decade remains under investigation by state or federal authorities.

March 22

Mueller Delivers Report To Barr

robert mueller waving hands

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russian Investigation to Attorney General, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Benner, March 22, 2019. Special Counsel Does Not Recommend New Charges; The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown above in a file photo), focused on Russian election interference and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign cooperated with them; Mr. Mueller did not suggest additional charges as part of his investigation, a senior Justice Dept. official said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Friday delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, the Justice Department said, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years.

Mr. Barr told congressional leaders in a letter that he may brief them on the special counsel’s “principal conclusions” as early as this weekend, a surprisingly fast turnaround for a report anticipated for months. The attorney general said he “remained committed to as much transparency as possible.”

Justice Department logoIn an apparent endorsement of an investigation that Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked as a “witch hunt,” Mr. Barr said Justice Department officials never had to intervene to keep him from taking an inappropriate or unwarranted step. The department’s regulations would have required Mr. Barr to inform the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees about any such interventions in his letter.

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments, a statement aimed at ending speculation that Mr. Trump or other key figures might be charged down the line. With department officials stressing that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry was over and his office closing, the question for both Mr. Trump’s critics and defenders was whether the prosecutors condemned the president’s behavior in their report, exonerated him — or neither. The president’s lawyers were already girding for a possible fight over whether they could assert executive privilege to keep parts of the report secret.

For Trump and the System, a Turning Point and a Test

Once released, the Mueller report will transform the political landscape.
'
Since Mr. Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, his team has focused on how Russian operatives sought to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, cooperated with them. While the inquiry, started months earlier by the F.B.I., unearthed a far-ranging Russian influence operation, no public evidence emerged that the president or his aides illegally assisted it.

New York Times, Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russian Investigation to Attorney General, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Benner, March 22, 2019. Special Counsel Does Not Recommend New Charges; The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown above in a file photo), focused on Russian election interference and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign cooperated with them; Mr. Mueller did not suggest additional charges as part of his investigation, a senior Justice Dept. official said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Friday delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, the Justice Department said, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years.

william barr new oMr. Barr (shown at right in his new official photo) told congressional leaders in a letter that he may brief them on the special counsel’s “principal conclusions” as early as this weekend, a surprisingly fast turnaround for a report anticipated for months. The attorney general said he “remained committed to as much transparency as possible.”

In an apparent endorsement of an investigation that Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked as a “witch hunt,” Mr. Barr said Justice Department officials never had to intervene to keep him from taking an inappropriate or unwarranted step. The department’s regulations would have required Mr. Barr to inform the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees about any such interventions in his letter.

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments, a statement aimed at ending speculation that Mr. Trump or other key figures might be charged down the line. With department officials stressing that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry was over and his office closing, the question for both Mr. Trump’s critics and defenders was whether the prosecutors condemned the president’s behavior in their report, exonerated him — or neither. The president’s lawyers were already girding for a possible fight over whether they could assert executive privilege to keep parts of the report secret.

For Trump and the System, a Turning Point and a Test

Once released, the Mueller report will transform the political landscape.
'
Since Mr. Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, his team has focused on how Russian operatives sought to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, cooperated with them. While the inquiry, started months earlier by the F.B.I., unearthed a far-ranging Russian influence operation, no public evidence emerged that the president or his aides illegally assisted it.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, ‘We will fight’: Democrats prepare to battle for Mueller’s complete findings, Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade​, ​March 22, 2019. Lawmakers are looking to the special counsel’s findings to inform their investigations — and insist they will be satisfied with nothing short of a complete account of the results and the evidence that informed them.

washington post logoWashington Post, After lashing out for months, a combative Trump awaits Mueller’s findings, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, March 22, 2019. The president’s actions in office, including his firing of the FBI director, were scrutinized as possible obstructions of justice.

More On Mueller Report

ny times logoNew York Times, Glimpses of the Mystery That Is the Mueller Investigation, Scott Shane, Photos by Gabriella Demczuk, March 22, 2019. In 2016, the F.B.I. began its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and journalists attempted to track it. We have seen pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. The full picture is missing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can — and should — release the Mueller report, Neal Kumar Katyal, March 22, 2019. Neal Kumar Katyal, right, is the Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He was neal katyal oacting solicitor general of the United States from 2010 to 2011.

The public has every right to see Robert S. Mueller III's conclusions. Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public. Indeed, the relevant sources of law give Attorney General P. William Barr all the latitude in the world to make it public.

Those regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1998 and 1999 as a young Justice Department lawyer, require three types of reports. First, the special counsel must give the attorney general “Urgent Reports” during the course of an investigation regarding things such as proposed indictments. Second, the special counsel must provide a report to the attorney general at the end of the investigation, which Mueller delivered on Friday. And third, the attorney general must furnish Congress with a report containing “an explanation for each action … upon conclusion of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Senator Richard Blumenthal says that, after Robert Mueller report, “high likelihood” Donald Trump will be indicted, Bill Palmer, March 22, 2019. The TV pundits really, really, really want you to buy into the narrative tonight that the submission of Robert Mueller’s report somehow means that Mueller didn’t find enough evidence to build a criminal case against Donald Trump. What’s this based on? Literally nothing, of course. Meanwhile, the people in position to know better are expecting Mueller’s report to set off additional indictments.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, adam schiff officialright, appeared on MSNBC and stated that he thinks it’s “likely” there are more indictments coming; they’ll just come from the U.S. Attorneys’ offices that Mueller handed off the cases to. But this didn’t seem to fit with the doomsday narrative, so MSNBC kept pushing the notion that it’s all over, and everyone who hasn’t yet been arrested is somehow magically off the hook. That’s when Richard Blumenthal stepped to the plate.

Richard Blumenthal, below left, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, appeared on MSNBC and stated that there is a “high likelihood that there are indictments in this president’s future.” He explained that these indictments are likely to come from SDNY and/or richard blumenthal portraitother federal prosecutors. But again, this didn’t fit the prevailing MSNBC narrative, so the host cut off Blumenthal, and began asking leading questions which were aimed at painting the picture that no more indictments are coming.

We don’t know why the TV pundits are so eager tonight to push the notion that they somehow know that no one else will be indicted, beyond the obvious fact that scaring viewers is a good way to paralyze them into staying tuned in. But back in the real world, people who have been involved with the overall Trump-Russia investigation, such as Adam Schiff and Richard Blumenthal, are very loudly saying that they’re expecting more indictments. Blumenthal even thinks Trump is going to be indicted.

March 21

david pecker cnn screenshot

Trump family friend David Pecker, chairman of American Media, Inc. (AMI), parent company of the National Enquirer (screenshot from CNN)

Palmer Report, Opinion: National Enquirer sells out Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, March 21, 2019. The National Enquirer, its parent company AMI, and its boss David Pecker just keep finding their way in and out of legal trouble in relation to Donald Trump’s scandals. Now the Enquirer gang has decided to sell Trump out in the hope of keeping itself out of even more legal trouble.

bill palmer report logo headerWe already saw Pecker and the National Enquirer sell Donald Trump and Michael Cohen out to the SDNY in return for immunity. But then Pecker blew his immunity when he got caught trying to blackmail Trump’s longtime nemesis Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and now Pecker is in real danger of facing serious criminal charges. So he’s selling Trump out yet again.

Pecker and AMI have agreed to turn over Trump-related documents to the House Judiciary Committee, according to CBS News. Based on the nature of the document request, these are ostensibly the same documents that they’ve already turned over to the SDNY. So this won’t necessarily further incriminate Trump, but it will serve to publicly incriminate Trump, as the committee will turn around and use these documents as part of its public hearings on Trump’s crimes.

twitter bird Custom

March 20

Trump Airs Grievances Against McCain

Roll Call, Analysis: ‘I didn’t get a thank you’ for approving John McCain’s funeral, Trump says, John T. Bennett, March 20, 2019. President’s economic speech in Ohio becomes political rally — with tanks. President Donald Trump went to Ohio to deliver an economic message. Instead, as always, a political rally broke out — this time, in front of military tanks.

djt smiling fileHe already was in quite a mood Wednesday afternoon as he approached reporters awaiting his departure on the White House’s South Lawn, declaring that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is being written “out of the blue.”

“I just won one of the greatest elections of all time in the history of this country — and even you will admit that — and now I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote,” Trump (shown at left in a file photo) said before boarding Marine One in Washington. “So explain that, because my voters don’t get it and I don’t get it. … But it’s sort of interesting that a man, out of the blue, just writes a report.” (The notion that Mueller’s report is a surprise is yet another false statement by Trump.)

john mccain with flag recentAfter a quick flight and motorcade ride to Lima Army Tank Plant, the president had plenty more to say, attacking the late Republican Sen. John McCain (right) from Arizona and again declaring that the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate will be gone by Wednesday night. (He has previously said it was already eliminated)

Here are a collection of the most eyebrow-raising quotes from the president as he addressed plant workers in front of several tanks:

“Well, you better love me. I kept this place open.”

Trump was referring to the Army’s response to shrinking defense budgets under the Obama administration. The service slowed the production level at the Lima plant to one tank per month, according to defense analyst and consultant Loren Thompson.

“McCain didn’t get the job done for our great vets and the VA — and they knew it. … A lot of people like him, and I think that’s great.

Though Trump said in Lima he hopes this is the end of his feud with a man who died seven months ago, he brought up the late Senate Armed Services chairman unprompted. His conservative base was often frustrated by McCain’s efforts to cross the aisle. Trump knows that. The feud likely will continue.

“I gave him (McCain) the kind of funeral he wanted, which as president I had to approve. And I didn’t get a thank you. But that’s OK.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The White House hasn't turned over a single piece of paper to my committee, Elijah E. Cummings, March 20, 2019. Elijah E. Cummings, right, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the House, where elijah cummings headshothe is the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

In November, the American people voted overwhelmingly to put Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives to start serving as a truly independent check and balance on the executive branch. Since then, President Trump and his allies have complained of “Presidential Harassment,” decrying Democrats for having the audacity to request documents and witnesses to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities.

The problem is that the White House is engaged in an unprecedented level of stonewalling, delay and obstruction.

I serve as chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, the primary investigative body in the House of Representatives. I have sent 12 letters to the White House on a half-dozen topics — some routine and some relating to our core national security interests. In response, the White House has refused to hand over any documents or produce any witnesses for interviews.

washington post logo

Washington Post, Mueller team cites ‘press of other work’ in seeking delay to open Manafort records, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, March 20, 2019 (print ed.). The filing comes amid signs that the special counsel’s probe is winding down and speculation that he could any day transmit his final report to the attorney general.
Prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on Tuesday cited the “press of other work” in asking a judge to give them until April 1 to respond to the court about a request from The Washington Post to unseal records in Paul Manafort’s criminal case.

In a two-page filing, Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben and prosecutor Adam C. Jed wrote, “Counsel responsible for preparing the response face the press of other work and require additional time to consult within the government.”

March 19

Mueller Report

Roll Call, Rep. Nadler: White House can’t claim executive privilege on Mueller report, Griffin Connolly, March 19, 2019. Judiciary Committee chairman says administration waived that privilege ‘long ago.’ The top House Democrat in the impending fight between robert mueller full face filethe executive branch and Congress over the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s report to the public indicated Tuesday that he will strongly oppose White House lawyers’ efforts to redact some information.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler claimed Tuesday that the Trump administration waived any claims of executive privilege over Mueller’s eventual findings “long ago” when it agreed to cooperate with the probe.

White House lawyers have reportedly indicated they expect to review Mueller’s report and request redactions based on claims of executive privilege for conversations between President Donald Trump and his advisers. The administration would have to prove that those conversations needed to be withheld because of sensitive content like national security. It wouldn’t cover any aspects of the 2016 campaign.

Palmer Report, Opinion: What today’s newly released Michael Cohen search warrant documents really tell us, Bill Palmer, March 19, 2019. Partially redacted documents were released today in relation to the search warrant that was carried out against Michael Cohen’s residence and office nearly a year ago. bill palmer report logo headerThis wasn’t because prosecutors wanted to announce anything, and was instead the result of a legal victory by a number of major news outlets who sought the documents. So what do these documents tell us?

The key here is that we clearly don’t know how many cases have been referred to other prosecutors. For instance we just learned yesterday that the Feds raided the office of former Trump campaign fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer. The bottom line: no one in Trump’s orbit is off the hook for anything, unless they’re innocent.

Massage Charges To Be Dropped?

djt li yang cindy

Florida massage parlour founder Li "Cindy" Yang and President Trump are shown in a photo signed by Trump.Yang's bio identifies her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments. Her website said that she is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.”

Yahoo News, Report: Florida prosecutors offer Patriots' Robert Kraft deal to drop solicitation charges, Shalise Manza Young, March 19, 2019. Prosecutors in Palm Beach County, Florida, have offered New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft a chance to avoid prosecution for soliciting prostitution and having his charges dropped, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

robert kraft twitterCalled deferred prosecution, it would require that Kraft admit that he could be proved guilty at trial.

Kraft (shown in a file photo) is not the only man charged who has been presented with this offer, the WSJ reports.

It is unclear whether Kraft will accept the agreement.

The proposed deferred prosecution deal comes with caveats: completion of an education course about prostitution, 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and payment of some court costs.

But Kraft and his attorney would also review the evidence in the case and agree that if it were to go to trial, the state would be able to prove guilt.

Kraft has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution; he was one of several men charged after a months-long investigation by Jupiter police, who were looking into alleged human trafficking.

A statement from a Kraft spokesman at the time of the charges being announced proclaimed his innocence.

Jupiter police say they have Kraft on surveillance video entering Orchids of Asia day spa, paying for services and receiving oral sex on two occasions, including on the day of the AFC championship game.

If Kraft accepted the deal and charges are dropped, he could still be punished by the NFL under the personal conduct policy. The league has reinforced that the policy applies to all members of the league, including team owners.

Trump Hotel Constitutional Dispute

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal appeals court to hear Trump hotel case as president asks for it to be thrown out, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O'Connell, March 19, 2019 (print ed.). ​The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia contend that the president is illegally profiting from the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

President Trump’s luxury hotel in downtown Washington and the foreign dignitaries who book rooms and host events there are central to a novel appeals court case Tuesday involving anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution.

The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia contend that the president is illegally profiting from the Trump International Hotel’s foreign and state government visitors and that his financial gain comes at the expense of local competitors.

“The president is neither above the law nor exempt from litigation, and nothing in this suit impinges on his public duties,” D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) say in court filings in advance of oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

At issue are the Constitution’s once-obscure emoluments clauses, designed to prevent undue influence on government officials but never before applied in court to a sitting president.

A federal judge in Maryland allowed the case to move forward and adopted a broad definition of the ban to include “profit, gain, or advantage” received “directly or indirectly” from foreign, federal or state governments.

The three-judge panel on Tuesday will specifically consider whether the District and Maryland have legal grounds — or standing — to sue the president in the first place. And the appeals court will consider the president’s request to dismiss the case outright or to take the unusual step of ordering the lower-court judge to allow a midstream appeal.

The judges are Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. Niemeyer was nominated to the 4th Circuit by President George H.W. Bush, Shedd by President George W. Bush and Quattlebaum by President Trump.

Despite the case — and a separate emoluments suit brought by 198 Democrats in Congress — the Trump Organization did more business with foreign governments in 2018 than it did the year before. The company said it received $191,000 in profits from large events and hotel bookings paid for by foreign governments last year, money it donated to the U.S. Treasury. The previous year the company reported about $150,000.

March 18

NY Times Probes Trump-Troubled Bank

ny times logoNew York Times, A Mar-a-Lago Weekend and an Act of God: Trump’s History With Deutsche Bank, David Enrich, March 19, 2019 (print ed.). As a developer, Donald Trump borrowed more than $2 billion from Deutsche Bank. Once he was president, employees were told not to utter his name. Now Mr. Trump’s financial ties with the bank are the subject of investigations by two congressional committees and the New York attorney general.

Mr. Trump and Deutsche Bank were deeply entwined, their symbiotic bond born of necessity and ambition on both sides: a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct.

deutsche bank logoMr. Trump used loans from Deutsche Bank to finance skyscrapers and other high-end properties, and repeatedly cited his relationship with the bank to deflect political attacks on his business acumen. Deutsche Bank used Mr. Trump’s projects to build its investment-banking business, reaped fees from the assets he put in its custody and leveraged his celebrity to lure clients.

Over nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank’s leaders repeatedly saw red flags surrounding Mr. Trump. There was a disastrous bond sale, a promised loan that relied on a banker’s forged signature, wild exaggerations of Mr. Trump’s wealth, even a claim of an act of God.

But Deutsche Bank had a ravenous appetite for risk and limited concern about its clients’ reputations. Time after time, with the support of two different chief executives, the bank handed money — a total of well over $2 billion — to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Anthony Kennedy and his son were even more deeply involved in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal than we Anthony Kennedy official SCOTUS portraitthought, Bill Palmer, March 18, 2019. Last year, even as Donald Trump’s presidency seemed to be on its last legs, and the Republican Party seemed to be inching away from him, something happened that caused the GOP to rush back into his arms and buy him significant time.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, abruptly announced he was retiring, thus allowing Trump to nominate his replacement. This was suspicious beyond words, because Kennedy’s son was an executive at Deutsche Bank, which was at the financial center of Donald Trump’s Russia scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerThis set off a million theories about how Donald Trump might have used Trump-Russia dirt on Justin Kennedy as leverage to force Anthony Kennedy into retirement. The trouble was that, while it all made sense, it was all vague and circumstantial. But that’s no longer the case. Tonight the New York Times published a verty lengthy expose about the mutually corrupt relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank over the years – and both the older and younger Kennedy play a role in the story.

deutsche bank logoThe NY Times article confirms, once and for all, what had long been suspected: Justin Kennedy was indeed the Deutsche Bank senior executive who kept making the decision to loan large amounts of money to Donald Trump for bad real estate deals, even after every other bank in the world had sworn off lending money to Trump. Oh, and there’s this sentence: “Occasionally, Justice Kennedy stopped by Deutsche Bank’s offices to say hello to the team.”

U.S. Flood Disaster

ny times logoNew York Times, Record Floods Pummel Midwest When Farmers Can Least Afford It, Mitch Smith, Jack Healy and Timothy Williams, March 18, 2019. “There’s no harder business to be in,” one Nebraska man said. Farmers across Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota have lost livestock and livelihoods after record floods pummeled the region.

Ice chunks the size of small cars ripped through barns and farmhouses. Baby calves were swept into freezing floodwaters, washing up dead along the banks of swollen rivers. Farm fields were now lakes.

The record floods that have pummeled the Midwest are inflicting a devastating toll on farmers and ranchers at a moment when they can least afford it, raising fears that this natural disaster will become a breaking point for farms weighed down by falling incomes, rising bankruptcies and the fallout from President Trump’s trade policies.

Probe Of Trump Ally?

djt li yang super bowlMassage parlor founder Li "Cindy" Yang, lower left, an active Republican contributor and PR specialist in linking Chinese nationals to prominent Repubicans, and a friend watch this year's Superbowl with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago (Facebook photo).

Miami Herald, Democrats call for counterintelligence investigation of massage parlor boss Cindy Yang, Alex Daugherty, March 18, 2019. Democrats in Congress are asking the FBI to investigate Florida massage parlor operator Li “Cindy” Yang after the Miami Herald and others reported on Yang’s access to President Donald Trump and work to get Chinese business executives access to political fundraisers.

In a letter sent on Friday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, Democrats leading the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees called for criminal and counterintelligence investigations into “credible allegations of potential human trafficking, as well as unlawful foreign lobbying, campaign finance and other activities by Ms. Yang.”

Yang, who founded a string of South Florida Asian day spas linked to sexual services, arranged for a group of Chinese expats to attend a 2017 Republican fundraiser for Trump at a New York restaurant as part of her work with the National Committee of Asian American Republicans. Yang opened — but had since sold — the massage parlor that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly visited on the day of the AFC Championship Game. The business was under surveillance, and he and several other men were charged.

Mueller Probes

Palmer Report, Analysis: Feds raided office of Donald Trump’s pal Elliott Broidy, and it’s going to get very ugly, Bill Palmer, March 18, 2019. We’re all learning today that the Feds raided the office of Donald Trump’s associate Elliott Broidy last summer. This remained a secret until just now, thanks to documents that have been obtained by ProPublica. This is a very big deal, not only for Trump, but for the Republican National Committee – and things are going to get ugly.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat immediately stands out here is that, as opposed to the highly publicized raid of Michael Cohen’s office last year, the Feds have kept the raid of Elliott Broidy’s office a secret all this time. This strongly suggests that the evidence obtained in the raid is being used in ongoing investigations into bigger fish.

elliott broidyThe reporting from ProPublica reveals that the Feds targeted Broidy, right, over allegations of money laundering and lobbying the Trump regime on behalf of Middle Eastern nations. This more or less cements that the Feds’ goal here is to use Broidy’s crimes to get to Trump and his administration.

rnc logoThis brings us to the still unresolved questions about Elliott Broidy’s personal scandals. He allegedly paid his mistress $1.6 million to have an abortion and keep quiet about it all. It’s widely suspected that it was actually Donald Trump who impregnated the woman, and that Broidy was merely acting as a middleman for the payoff and ended up taking the fall for it, but no specific evidence has surfaced in this regard.

The raid has likely either confirmed or disproven this notion, and it’ll eventually come out one way or the other.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lobbying Case Against Democrat With Ties to Manafort Reaches Key Stage, Kenneth P. Vogel and Katie Benner, March 18, 2019. A long-running federal investigation into a former White House counsel in the Obama administration is Gregory Craigreaching a critical stage, presenting the Justice Department with a decision about whether to charge a prominent Democrat as part of a more aggressive crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying.

The case involving the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig (shown in a file photo), was transferred in January from federal prosecutors in New York to those in Washington.

A decision about whether to prosecute Mr. Craig, who was White House counsel for President Barack Obama during his first year in office, is expected in the coming weeks, people familiar with the case said. The investigation centers on whether Mr. Craig should have disclosed work he did in 2012 — while he was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — on behalf of the Russia-aligned government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine.

democratic donkey logoThe work was steered to Mr. Craig by Paul Manafort, who was then a political consultant collecting millions of dollars from clients in former Soviet states. Mr. Manafort, below right, who went on to become President Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016, was sentenced this month to seven and a half years in prison on charges brought by Mr. Mueller’s team related to obstruction of justice and violations of banking, tax and lobbying laws stemming from his work in Ukraine.

paul manafort mugThe Manafort case, and others developed by Mr. Mueller, marked the first high-profile criminal charges in years under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. The 1938 law requires Americans to disclose detailed information about lobbying and public relations work for foreign governments and politicians. One of the first significant initiatives under the new attorney general, William P. Barr, was the reorganization of the unit that oversees FARA, suggesting that enforcing laws on foreign lobbying will become a priority of his tenure.

Mr. Craig, 74, would be the first Democrat to be charged in a case spinning out of the special counsel’s investigation — a distinction that could be used to rebut accusations leveled by Mr. Trump and his supporters that the investigation is a partisan witch hunt.

March 17

U.S. Politics / Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: White House missteps and clashes of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Michael Kranish, March 17, 2019 (print ed.). Four months after President Trump named son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka as White House advisers, he was chided by a former Justice Department official named Mark Corallo. “You could start draining the swamp by removing your in-laws,” tweeted Corallo, a conservative Republican.

Yet shortly after the caustic tweet, Corallo was surprised to find himself being asked to become the White House’s communications director. vicky ward kushner bookHe turned that offer down, pleading that he needed time with his family. Then he was asked to be a communications consultant for the legal team. He agreed on the condition that he would never have to say anything negative about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who he said “walks on water.”

As Corallo settled into his position, however, his concerns about the actions of Ivanka Trump and Kushner only increased, according to Vicky Ward’s book Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The Kushners were “reckless,” Corallo is quoted as saying. He cited his concern that they were present when President Trump was discussing the Mueller probe with his lawyers. That, according to Corallo, would make them witnesses to a conversation, potentially undercutting the otherwise-privileged discussions between the president and his attorneys.

Michael Kranish is an investigative political reporter with The Washington Post and a co-author of “Trump Revealed.” He is the author of “The World’s Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero,” to be published in May.

Axios, Sneak Peak: Where's Rudy? Jonathan Swan, March 17, 2019. Rudy Giuliani has vanished from your television. The last time the president's once-ubiquitous attack dog did a major TV appearance was on Sunday, Jan. 20, when he went on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union."

Between the lines: Sources familiar with Giuliani's thinking say he views a major part of his job as trying to undermine public confidence in the Mueller probe and harden the support of Republican voters for Trump to protect him against impeachment. So for Giuliani to stay off TV for an extended stretch is odd.

rudy giuliani recent• White House officials had expected Giuliani's Jan. 20 Sunday show appearances to be an easy "victory lap" after Mueller's office took the rare step of publicly disputing a BuzzFeed story accusing Trump of committing a felony.
Instead, Giuliani tripped over himself, saying the Trump Tower Moscow talks may have lasted up until November 2016. The claim was both unhelpful and, in the White House's view, incorrect.

• Giuliani walked back the comments in a statement the next day: "My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow 'project' were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president."

Since that weekend, the president's most prominent lawyer has kept his head down. He has only made one on-camera appearance: a March 8 hit on the streaming channel of the Washington newspaper The Hill, where he said Paul Manafort's surprisingly short jail sentence was fair.

• Two sources with direct knowledge told me that both Trump and the White House lawyer handling the Russia investigation, Emmet Flood, have privately griped about some of Giuliani's TV appearances.

Giuliani's response: When I asked Giuliani about all of this, he texted that he has spent hours with Trump in the last month and hasn't heard any complaints about his TV appearances from the president.

March 16

donald trump apprentice color nbc

Donald Trump from a publicity photo for his TV show "The Apprentice" (NBC TV).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: ‘The President … Is Not Above the Law,’ Editorial Board, March 16, 2019. A New York court rules that the Constitution does not shield President Trump from allegations of misconduct before he took office. The legal travails of President Bill Clinton may soon haunt President Trump. A New York appeals court on Thursday ruled that Mr. Trump, like Mr. Clinton before him, is not protected by the presidency from answering civil charges.

The five-judge panel in Manhattan said that the Constitution’s supremacy clause does not bar state courts from hearing claims over “alleged unofficial misconduct” — that is, claims of improper or illegal action before a president took office.

The decision expands on the precedent set in Clinton v. Jones, in which a unanimous Supreme Court in 1997 ruled that a federal court had jurisdiction over a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones, a former low-level Arkansas state employee, against Mr. Clinton.

Yes, the presidency is important and its occupant may have important duties to attend to other than to produce documents or sit for depositions in a civil suit alleging sexual misconduct and defamation, the court explained, but “the President is still a person, and he is not summer zervosabove the law.”

Two judges dissented, observing that the threat of contempt, should Mr. Trump resist the legal process, would put a state court in “direct control” over the president.

A former contestant on Mr. Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice,” Summer Zervos (shown at right) went public during the 2016 campaign with accusations that Mr. Trump kissed and groped her without her consent. She is suing the president for defaming her shortly after she came forward, calling her charges a “hoax.” She filed her suit days before Mr. Trump took the oath of office.

djt li yang cindy

Florida massage parlour founder Li "Cindy" Yang and President Trump are shown in a photo signed by Trump.Yang's bio identifies her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments. Her website said that she is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.”

ny times logoNew York Times, She Extols Trump, Guns and the Chinese Communist Party Line, Frances Robles, Michael Forsythe and Alexandra Stevenson, March 16, 2019. The Republican National Committee promised an “evening reception with Donald J. Trump” last March at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. A contribution of $2,700 toward the president’s re-election would get you in the door. Two seats for dinner were on offer for $25,000. And there was a third option: for $50,000, dinner for two and a photo with Mr. Trump.

Cindy Yang was determined to get the photo.

But there was a hurdle. The invitation limited campaign contributions to $5,400 per person, so Ms. Yang, a Chinese immigrant who had set up a string of day spas in Florida and was active in groups backed by the Chinese government and Communist Party, needed others to chip in.

Over the weeks leading up to the event, at least nine people in Ms. Yang’s orbit, some of them with modest incomes, made donations at exactly $5,400. She ended up at the dinner.

Ms. Yang was little known outside southern Florida until her name became associated with the arrest last month of Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, in a prostitution sting at a Jupiter massage parlor. The Miami Herald first reported that she had previously owned that parlor.

Though she was not charged or implicated in the sting, her other business efforts have since come under public scrutiny. One promised rich Chinese clients access to the social scene around Mr. Trump — and was promoted online with pictures of cabinet members, the Trump family and even the president himself.

One of the $5,400 political donations came from a 25-year old woman who gives facials at a beauty school, in a strip mall in nearby Palm Beach Gardens that is owned by Ms. Yang’s family. Another $5,400 came from a woman who says she worked as a receptionist at a massage parlor owned by Ms. Yang’s husband. A third gift of $5,400 came from an associate of Ms. Yang’s who had been charged in 2014 after a prostitution sting with practicing health care without a license, police records show.

The receptionist, Bingbing Peranio, listed as a “manager” on her disclosure, spoke with a reporter about her relationship with Ms. Yang. She described herself as a big fan of Mr. Trump’s and said Ms. Yang, a registered Republican, was seen as a leader among Asian-American Republicans in Florida.

Asked if Ms. Yang had reimbursed her for the $5,400, Ms. Peranio said, “I do not want to answer that question.” Reimbursing someone for a political contribution or contributing in the name of another person is illegal.

It is rare for workers in the massage and spa business to support candidates for office at such high-dollar levels, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records. In 2017 and 2018, of the nearly 65,000 donations made by people listed as massage therapists on F.E.C. disclosures, only two gave the maximum $5,400, including one of the Trump donors connected to Ms. Yang.

Ms. Yang, contacted by The New York Times, declined to discuss the contributions or her attendance at the Mar-a-Lago event. Her lawyer, Evan W. Turk, did not respond to questions about the donations but said in a statement to the media on Thursday that “the evidence indicates that our client has been falsely accused,” without providing further detail.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee denied “any wrongdoing on behalf of the R.N.C. or Trump campaign.”

In the past few years, Ms. Yang also began forging ties with organizations connected to the Chinese Communist Party and the government in Beijing.

In 2016, she joined the Florida Association for China Unification, part of a global network of organizations aimed at promoting the return of Taiwan to mainland control, a connection first reported by Mother Jones. Such groups fall under the oversight of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, which seeks to enlist the vast ethnic Chinese diaspora to promote Beijing’s policies.

March 15

Los Angeles Times, Congress requests former Fox News reporter’s notebooks regarding Trump’s hush money, Stacy Perman, March 15, 2019 fox news logo Small(print ed.). Congress requests former Fox News reporter’s notebooks regarding Trump’s hush money.Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform, on Wednesday requested former Fox News reporter Diana Falzone turn over all documents relating to her reporting on President Trump’s “debts and payments to silence women alleging extramarital affairs with him prior to the 2016 presidential election.”

djt stormy daniels 2006The request comes a week after the New Yorker published an investigation on Fox News that disclosed Falzone had reported an article about Trump making hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (shown with Trump) prior to the 2016 presidential election in order to keep her quiet about their alleged affair. According to the New Yorker, Fox killed the story because Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox, wanted Trump to win the election.

Ken LaCorte, Falzone’s editor at Fox, published a response in Mediate disputing her version of events, saying the piece didn’t meet journalistic standards and was not killed because of any political agenda.

Falzone, who has since left Fox, sued the company for gender and disability discrimination in May 2017. However, as part of her settlement, she signed a nondisclosure agreement and has not been able to rebut LaCorte’s claims or any matter arising out of her time at Fox.

washington post logotom barrackheadshotWashington Post, Inside the Trump inaugural dinner designed as a glittery overture to foreign diplomats, Michael Kranish, Rosalind S. Helderman, Mary Jordan and Tom Hamburger, March 15, 2019. The Chairman’s Global Dinner was the brainchild of inaugural committee chairman Thomas J. Barrack Jr., right. State, federal and congressional investigators are now looking into activities related to the committee.

March 14

djt robert mueller headshots

 washington post logoWashington Post, In overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, House calls for Mueller report to be made public, Karoun Demirjian​, March 14, 2019.  Republicans joined Democrats to back a resolution calling on the Justice Department to release the special counsel’s full report to Congress and the public. It sends a message but cannot force the attorney general’s hand.

The final vote count was 420 in favor, with no one voting no. Four lawmakers voted “present.”

But the resolution by itself cannot force attorney general William P. Barr to publish more of the report than he intends to — and that is why even some of the Republicans supporting it complained that the measure was a waste of time.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Tucker Carlson says he’s the victim of a powerful bully. Meet the 24-year-old who found the tapes, Eli Rosenberg​, March 14, 2019. In reality, credit goes to Madeline Peltz, a 20-something in her first adult job who lives in the basement of a D.C. house she rents fox news logo Smallwith five other people, a few cats and a dog named Noodles.

Madeline Peltz works the night shift at the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Given the timing of that particular shift, one of her main responsibilities is watching Tucker Carlson’s 8 p.m. show on Fox News.

And she’s watched a lot of Tucker Carlson (shown at left in file photos with President Trump).

tucker carlson djtCarlson has been in the public eye for some 20 years — first as a print journalist, then a television commentator, founder of the conservative site the Daily Caller, and now, Fox News host, with a prime-time slot and a salary in the millions. But people have been confused by Carlson’s tone on Fox since he took over for Bill O’Reilly in 2018, noting concern about diversity and demographics in his show.

After many Carlson-watching hours, the 24-year-old researcher developed a working theory, which she outlined on the nonprofit’s website: that Carlson is using his platform on Fox News to introduce white-nationalist ideas to the mainstream, making him a uniquely prominent “mouthpiece for white supremacy.”

March 13

ny times logoNew York Times, Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to 3.5 More Years in Prison, Sharon LaFraniere, March 13, 2019. Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been ordered to serve a total of seven and a half years in prison after a second federal judge added more time to his sentence on Wednesday, saying he “spent a significant portion of his career gaming the system.”

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Federal District Court in Washington sentenced Mr. Manafort, 69, on two conspiracy counts that encompassed a host of crimes, including money-laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to disclose lobbying work that earned him tens of millions of dollars over more than a decade.

“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money involved,” she said, reeling off Mr. Manafort’s various offenses, rapid-fire. “There is no question that this defendant knew better and he knew what he was doing.”

Soon after the additional sentence was handed down, Mr. Manafort was charged in state court in New York with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other felonies, an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if Mr. Trump pardons him for his federal crimes.

ny times logoNew York Times, New York Charges Manafort With 16 Crimes. If He’s Convicted, Trump Can’t Pardon Him, William K. Rashbaum, March 13, 2019. The charges are part of an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if President Trump pardons him for his federal crimes.

Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been charged in New York with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said Wednesday, an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if Mr. Trump pardons him for his federal crimes.

News of the indictment came shortly after Mr. Manafort was sentenced to his second federal prison term in two weeks; he now faces a combined sentence of more than seven years for tax and bank fraud and conspiracy in two related cases brought by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but has no such authority in state cases.

While Mr. Trump has not said he intends to pardon his former campaign chairman, he has often spoken of his power to pardon and has defended Mr. Manafort on a number of occasions, calling him a “brave man.”

Mueller Report

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Report Has Washington Spinning (and It’s Not Even Filed), Staff report, March 12, 2019 (print ed.). The capital is jittery and full of rumor as it awaits the report of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Russian interference and President Trump.  It may or may not be the report of the century, it may or may not be ready soon, and it may be only a few pages. But it is definitely highly anticipated.

Critics Of Mueller, Defenders of Assange

Consortium News, Opinion: VIPS: Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), March 13, 2019. The final Mueller report should be graded “incomplete,” says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.

We veteran intelligence professionals have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

There is an overabundance of “assessments” but a lack of hard evidence to support that prevailing narrative. We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of “evidence,” particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions. We know only too well — and did our best to expose — how our former colleagues in the intelligence community manufactured fraudulent “evidence” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

We have scrutinized publicly available physical data — the “trail” that every cyber operation leaves behind. And we have had support from highly experienced independent forensic investigators who, like us, have no axes to grind. We can prove that the conventional-wisdom story about Russian-hacking-DNC-emails-for-WikiLeaks is false. Drawing largely on the unique expertise of two VIPS scientists who worked for a combined total of 70 years at the National Security Agency and became Technical Directors there, we have regularly published our findings. But we have been deprived of a hearing in mainstream media — an experience painfully reminiscent of what we had to endure when we exposed the corruption of intelligence before the attack on Iraq 16 years ago.

This time, with the principles of physics and forensic science to rely on, we are able to adduce solid evidence exposing mistakes and distortions in the dominant story. We offer you below — as a kind of aide-memoire— a discussion of some of the key factors related to what has become known as “Russia-gate.” And we include our most recent findings drawn from forensic work on data associated with WikiLeaks’ publication of the DNC emails.

We do not claim our conclusions are “irrefutable and undeniable,” a la Colin Powell at the UN before the Iraq war. Our judgments, however, are based on the scientific method — not “assessments.” We decided to put this memorandum together in hopes of ensuring that you hear that directly from us.

If the Mueller team remains reluctant to review our work — or even to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, we fear that many of those yearning earnestly for the truth on Russia-gate will come to the corrosive conclusion that the Mueller investigation was a sham.

In sum, we are concerned that, at this point, an incomplete Mueller report will fall far short of the commitment made by then Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “to ensure a full and thorough investigation,” when he appointed Mueller in May 2017. Again, we are at your disposal.

Discussion

The centerpiece accusation of Kremlin “interference” in the 2016 presidential election was the charge that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to embarrass Secretary Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win. The weeks following the election witnessed multiple leak-based media allegations to that effect. These culminated on January 6, 2017 in an evidence-light, rump report misleadingly labeled “Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).” Prepared by “handpicked analysts” from only three of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, and NSA), the assessment expressed “high confidence” in the Russia-hacking-to-WikiLeaks story, but lacked so much as a hint that the authors had sought access to independent forensics to support their “assessment.”

Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – including a possible impeachment battle and greatly increased tension between Russia and the U.S. — it is difficult to understand why Comey did not move quickly to seize the computer hardware so the FBI could perform an independent examination of what quickly became the major predicate for investigating election interference by Russia. Fortunately, enough data remain on the forensic “trail” to arrive at evidence-anchored conclusions. The work we have done shows the prevailing narrative to be false. We have been suggesting this for over two years. Recent forensic work significantly strengthens that conclusion.

March 12

Trump Impeachment?

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

Nancy Pelosi said of impeachment: ‘It divides the country.’ Photograph: Pool New / Reuters

The Guardian, Pelosi comes out against impeaching Trump: 'He's just not worth it,' Guardian staff and agencies, updated March 12, 2019. House speaker says move would be too divisive without ‘compelling and bipartisan’ rationale

Donald Trump should not be impeached unless the reasons are overwhelming and bipartisan, given how divisive it would be for the country, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said.

“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi, the top US Democrat, said in a Washington Post interview published on Monday.

“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” she said. “He’s just not worth it.”

It was Pelosi’s most direct comment yet on Trump’s possible impeachment, a topic she has dealt with cautiously as it carries the potential to sharply split Democrats and the public ahead of next year’s White House and congressional elections.

Palmer Report, Opinion: That’s not how any of this works, Bill Palmer (right), March 12, 2019. If you know me, then you know that I’m as liberal as they bill palmercome, and that I have great respect for liberals in general. There is, however, one thing that always confuses me about our side of the ideological fence: why are we always so quick to assume that our own liberal leaders are complete idiots, even when the evidence says otherwise?

bill palmer report logo headerSpeaker Nancy Pelosi has spent the past few months running circles around Donald Trump, in such rapid fashion it’s left his head spinning. We don’t know precisely how their ongoing battles will play out. But it’s such a mismatch, the one thing we know for sure is that Pelosi will win, and Trump will suffer at her hands accordingly. So why on earth would Pelosi stupidly decide to take impeachment off the table yesterday? She wouldn’t.

Even if you take Pelosi’s impeachment comments at face value without reading between the lines, she’s simply saying that there’s no point in impeaching Donald Trump right now, today, because it wouldn’t succeed. She’s right. What’s the point of ringing up Trump on impeachment charges right now, when we all know the Senate wouldn’t come anywhere close to removing him right now?

Trump Watch

djt li yang super bowlMassage parlor founder Li "Cindy" Yang, lower left, an active Republican contributor and PR specialist in linking Chinese nationals to prominent Repubicans, and a friend watch this year's Superbowl with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago (Facebook photo).

manchurian candidate 1962 movie posterThe Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American suspense thriller film about the Cold War and sleeper agents.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump is the "Manchurian Candidate"-turned-President, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author, former Navy Intelligence officer), March 12, 2019 (Subscription required; excerpted with permission).

Palm Beach: Forget Russian oligarchs for the time being. Donald Trump and his family appear to have been co-opted by a standard Chinese intelligence operation -- both mainland and Taiwanese -- that uses overseas Chinese, shady dummy corporations, prostitution and blackmail, and political influence peddling to influence foreign governments.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: The Massage Parlor Owner and Mar-a-Lago, Michelle Goldberg, right, March 12, 2019 (print ed.). We're jaded, but this should be a big scandal.

Even if you’re an avid follower of the news, it’s hard to keep track of Donald Trump’s scandals. Revelations that would have been shocking in the world we all lived in a few years ago — for example, news that the president overruled his staff to insist on security clearances for his fashion designer daughter and her husband — now take up half a news cycle, at most.

Still, it’s worth trying to summon whatever is left of our pre-Trump sensibilities and pause to consider the epic sleaze of the unfolding story of Li Yang, also known as Cindy Yang.

Yang, in case you haven’t heard of her yet, is a Florida businesswoman whose family owns a chain of massage parlors that, as The Miami Herald put it, “have gained a reputation for offering sexual services.”

Last month, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and a close friend of and donor to Trump, was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a spa Yang founded, Orchids of Asia. (She reportedly sold it around 2013, but online reviews indicate it was known as a place to buy sex before that.) Kraft pleaded not guilty. The authorities have said that Orchids of Asia is part of a major sex trafficking operation.

ny times logoNew York Times, The New York attorney general’s office issued subpoenas to two banks for records related to Trump Organization projects, William K. Rashbaum and Danny Hakim, March 12, 2019 (print ed.). The New York attorney general’s office late on Monday issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League in 2014, according to a person briefed on the subpoenas.

deutsche bank logoThe inquiry opens a new front in the scrutiny of Deutsche Bank, one of the few lenders willing to do business with Donald J. Trump in recent years. The bank is already the subject of two congressional investigations and was examined last year by New York banking regulators, who took no action.

The new inquiry, by the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, was prompted by the congressional testimony last month of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the person briefed on the subpoenas said. Mr. Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements, and Mr. Cohen provided copies of statements he said had been submitted to Deutsche Bank.

March 11

washington post logoadam schiff officialWashington Post, Schiff says it’s a ‘mistake’ for Mueller not to interview Trump, Karoun Demirjian, March 11, 2019 (print ed.). House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), right, also deferred to the special counsel on whether Blackwater founder Erik Prince lied to Congress about his involvement with the Trump campaign.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: WMR's scoop about Trump's connection to Florida prostitution ring advances, Wayne March 11, 2019 (Subscription required; excerpted with permission). On March 11, WMR was the first to report on a possible connection between the law enforcement sting of several south Florida day spas, where Asian women were discovered to be working as virtual sex slaves, and Donald Trump's local resorts.

We reported, "The Trump Organization’s notorious business practices of hiring undocumented workers makes it even more likely that trafficked spa workers may have worked or are working at both Trump National Jupiter -- which, along with the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, serves wealthy members of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach -- and Trump National Doral in Miami-Dade, cannot be ruled out. The Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, also offers spa services."

djt li yang cindy

Florida massage parlour founder Li "Cindy" Yang and President Trump are shown in a photo signed by Trump.Yang's bio identifies her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments. Her website said that she is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.”

Palmer Report, Report: Robert Mueller pursuing indictments of several Donald Trump family members, Bill Palmer, March 11, 2019. Here’s the thing about reports that come from unnamed inside sources. In order to believe it, you have to take the reporter’s word on it that the source exists to begin with, and you have to assume that the source is being truthful to the reporter.

That can be the tricky part, as insiders only tend to share information with reporters to drive their own agenda, so the information typically is slathered in bias at best. But when a fairly major publication claims to have inside knowledge of something explosive, you have to at least chew on it.

bill palmer report logo headerThat brings us to this new report from British publication The Spectator that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his report, and he’s going to use it to push for indictments against four members of Donald Trump’s family. That’s explosive enough, of course, before you get to the additional claim that Mueller also wants to indict Trump himself. Then there’s the kicker: new Attorney General William Barr is cool with indicting Trump’s family, but he’s pushing back on indicting Trump himself. Can any of this be real?

In a word, maybe.

March 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Kavanaugh said Congress should hold presidents accountable. Barr agreed, Deanna Paul, March 10, 2019 (print ed.). ​Republicans have accused House Democrats of overusing investigative powers. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr are on record saying the House should find the truth.

washington post logoWashington Post, Encapsulating his unorthodox presidency, Trump assumed 10 personas in one speech, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Monica Akhtar and Danielle Kunitz, March 10, 2019 (print ed.). ​Offering a preview of the 2020 campaign, last week’s spectacle at the Conservative Political Action Conference showcased President Trump in his purest form.

Trump Probes

djt robert mueller headshots

Palmer Report, Analysis: The calm before the storm, Bill Palmer, March 10, 2019. This upcoming week is going to play a huge role in the fate of Donald Trump, Robert Mueller (shown together above), Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and too many other related people to list. Yet here we are on a comparatively quiet Sunday morning, with so many storylines in play, but most of them not having come all the way to fruition yet, even as we wait for the fireworks to start.

bill palmer report logo headerThis week we should get closure on the sentencing of Michael Flynn.

michael flynn microphoneRemember back when the judge asked aloud if Flynn (shown at right) had committed treason, and then told Flynn to go find a way to help Robert Mueller even more? That’s back in play now. If the Flynn case really is put to bed this week, we could finally see Mueller unveil some of what he redacted in the Flynn sentencing memo. Keep in mind that for Mueller to have recommended that Flynn get off with a slap on the wrist, Flynn must have sold out Donald Trump and everyone else pretty hardcore.

But that’s just the start of what this week brings.

March 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Next judge to sentence Manafort has already been thrust onto national stage, Spencer S. Hsu​, March 9, 2019. The next paul manafort abc flickr Customfederal judge to sentence former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has already been thrust onto the national stage during the year-long run of special counsel cases. Manafort is shown as campaign manager in a 2016 file photo.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, left, set to decide Wednesday whether she will add prison time for Manafort, is the same judge who was recently in the spotlight for the Roger Stone case (by being prosecuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team).

She comes primed for her role by three decades as an attorney and judge dissecting sensitive political corruption and white-collar criminal amy berman jacksoncases in the nation’s capital.

Dolan recalled winning the first felony conviction of a Virginia sitting state judge as a special prosecutor with Jackson. It was the early 1990s, and many jurors in Norfolk had not seen a female trial lawyer, he said. “They went quite quickly from, ‘Who is this little woman’ to ‘Who is this sharp lawyer?’ ” Dolan said.

The Baltimore-born daughter of a U.S. Army-trained physician, Jackson, 64, earned bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard University. She prosecuted violent and sex crimes at the U.S. attorney’s office in the District for six years, then in 1986 joined a law firm that became part of Venable.

djt li yang cindy

Florida massage parlour founder Li "Cindy" Yang and President Trump in a photo signed by Trump.Yang's bio identifies her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments and says she has been “settled in the United States for more than 20 years” and is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.”

Mother Jones, A Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago, David Corn, Dan Friedman and Daniel Schulman, March 9, 2019. The strange, swampy saga of Trump donor Li Yang. The latest Trump political donor to draw controversy is Li Yang, a 45-year-old Florida entrepreneur from China who founded a chain of spas and massage parlors that included the one where New robert kraft twitterEngland Patriots owner Bob Kraft (shown in a file photo) was recently busted for soliciting prostitution. She made the news this week when the Miami Herald reported that last month she had attended a Super Bowl viewing party at Donald Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club and had snapped a selfie with the president during the event.

Though Yang no longer owns the spa Kraft allegedly visited, the newspaper noted that other massage parlors her family runs have “gained a reputation for offering sexual services.” (She told the newspaper she has never violated the law.)

Beyond this sordid tale, there is another angle to the strange story of Yang: She runs an investment business that has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. And a website for the busines — which includes numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach — suggests she had some success in doing so.

Yang, who goes by Cindy, and her husband, Zubin Gong, started GY US Investments LLC in 2017. The company describes itself on its website, which is mostly in Chinese, as an “international business consulting firm that provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace.”

li yang ronna romney mcdanielBut the firm notes that its services also address clients looking to make high-level connections in the United States. On a page displaying a photo of Mar-a-Lago, Yang’s company says its “activities for clients” have included providing them “the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures.” The company boasts it has “arranged taking photos with the President” and suggests it can set up a “White House and Capitol Hill Dinner.”

li yang rick scott jan 8 25k croppedAccording to the Miami Herald, Yang is a registered Republican, and since 2017 she and her relatives have donated more than $42,000 to a Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign.

Her Facebook page, which was taken offline on Friday, was loaded with photos of her posing with GOP notables: Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Matt Gaetz or Florida, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel (above left), Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, among others (including then-Florida Governor and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, right).

washington post logoWashington Post, In another blow to Trump, judge rules in favor of ACLU in family separations case, Maria Sacchetti, March 9, 2019 (print ed.). The judge will hear arguments later this month on whether he should order the administration to track down all the separated families.

washington post logoWashington Post, Is Paul Manafort’s sentence too light? He fared worse than many fraudsters, data shows, Justin Jouvenal, Julie Tate and Rachel Weiner, March 9, 2019 (print ed.). U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III surprised many when he departed from federal sentencing paul manafort mugguidelines in Manafort’s case. But the average prison sentence in similar bank-fraud cases was about 31 months.

But a review of data for all 452 similar cases nationwide in fiscal 2018 show President Trump’s former campaign chairman received a sentence that was somewhat stiffer than other federal defendants’ prison terms.

The average prison sentence in such bank-fraud cases was about 31 months, roughly 16 months shorter than the 47 months Manafort received for convictions in federal court in Northern Virginia, according to an analysis of court data maintained by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

But Manafort, who was convicted by a jury in August 2018, fared much better when compared with other defendants who were also convicted by federal juries. The average sentence for those trials, 22 in all, was 98 months, according to the analysis.

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Matt Whitaker ran away screaming, Bill Palmer, March 9, 2019. After William Barr was confirmed as the new matthew whitaker headshot recentpermanent Attorney General, Donald Trump offered outgoing Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker (right) a cushy new fake job at the Department of Justice, presumably to keep Whitaker from cutting a perjury plea deal against him. Whitaker took the job, but then abruptly resigned after just a couple weeks.

We knew something didn’t smell right, and now it’s starting to surface.

bill palmer report logo headerLegal activist group American Oversight has obtained Department of Justice records which reveal that after Donald Trump ordered then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a sham investigation into Hillary Clinton, Sessions did precisely that. In November of 2017, Sessions instructed U.S. Attorney John Huber to investigate Hillary. At the time, Matt Whitaker was the Chief of Staff for Sessions. These newly exposed records reveal that Whitaker was the one who sent Sessions’ instructions to Huber. Why is this such a big deal?

hillary clinton buttonIn the big picture, it means that Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions really did abuse their power by attempting to open what they knew was a baseless criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton for political reasons. This is impeachable, and perhaps prosecutable, and we’re going to hear a lot more about this story in the coming days. But when it comes to Matt Whitaker, he lied about this whole thing.

So now we have Matt Whitaker not only having committed perjury during his recent House Judiciary Committee testimony, but also having committed perjury in this Sessions/Clinton matter. Whitaker knew he was going down for at least one count of perjury when he abruptly resigned his brand new DOJ job.

Palmer Report, Fact Check: Why is Amazon already selling the Robert Mueller report? Bill Palmer, March 9, 2019. This month two different books amazon logo smallcalled “The Mueller Report” have become available for preorder on the Amazon.com website. One is being offered by the Washington Post, and the other claims to be from Robert Mueller while boasting of an introduction from Alan Dershowitz. Both books claim a release date of March 26th, 2019. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has made no indication of when or how his report will be released. So what’s really going on here?

bill palmer report logo headerHere are the facts. No one, outside of Robert Mueller and his team, has any specific knowledge about when his report will be issued. These two “books” are merely empty templates that have been put up for preorder, with best guesses for release dates. They each plan to take the publicly available version of Mueller’s report that you’ll be able to get anywhere else for free, stuff it into a book, add some custom material, and charge you money.

The version being offered by the Washington Post says it’ll include “related materials” from the newspaper. Fair enough; you’re paying to get the Post’s analysis of the Mueller report, once the report surfaces. Considering the solid investigative research that the Post has done into Donald Trump’s various criminal scandals over the past few years, this analysis could prove to be useful.

alan dershowitz2The other version misleadingly lists “Robert S. Mueller III” as the author but is actually being offered by Skyhorse publishing, which has previously published pro-Trump books from Alan Dershowitz, including The Case Against Impeaching Trump. For this new book, the “introduction” from Dershowitz (right) will likely be something more akin to a rebuttal of the Mueller report. Unless you’re a Trump supporter and you want to read Dershowitz defending his ally Trump while attacking Mueller, ordering this version would be a complete waste of money.

In any case, neither of these books has any actual connection to Robert Mueller.

March 8

Manafort Sentencing

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort Is Sentenced to Nearly 4 Years; Punishment Falls Short of Guidelines, Sharon LaFraniere, March 8, 2019 (print ed.). Paul Manafort, the political consultant and Trump presidential campaign chairman whose lucrative work in Ukraine and ties to well-connected Russians made him a target of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was sentenced on Thursday to nearly four years in prison in the financial fraud case that left his grand lifestyle and power-broker reputation in ruins.

The sentence in the highest-profile criminal case mounted by the special counsel’s office was far lighter than the 19- to 24-year prison term recommended under sentencing guidelines. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., said that although Mr. Manafort’s crimes were “very serious,” following the guidelines would have resulted in an unduly harsh punishment.

A team of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors sat glum-faced as Judge Ellis delivered his decision. Mr. Manafort, who has gout and came to the hearing in a wheelchair with his foot heavily bandaged, had asked the judge for compassion. “To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” he said in a barely audible voice, reading from a prepared statement.

March 8

Spas, Sports and Trumps

Daily Mail, Founder of massage parlor where Robert Kraft was arrested is a Trump donor, frequent Mar-a-Lago partygoer and White House djt li yang super bowlguest who was seen watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl with the president, Chris Spargo, March 8, 2019. The Chinese entrepreneur who founded Orchids of Asia Day Spa & Massage was seen rooting for the New England Patriots at Mar-a-Lago alongside President Donald Trump early last month.

Li Yang (at left in photo via Facebook) shared a photo of herself and a friend sitting directly behind President Trump at the event, which took place just two weeks before Patriots owner Robert Kraft would be charged with two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution for incidents that allegedly transpired at that spa. She is shown below with the President's son Eric in another photo via Facebook. 

Kraft is accused of visiting the spa on two consecutive days in January, with a worker performing a manual sex act on the billionaire during his first appointment while another worker performed an oral sex act during his second sojourn.

eric trump li yang facebookHe is planning to fight those charges and denies claims he was the recipient of any sexual act at the spa, despite police claiming there is video evidence in the case.

Kraft is one of Trump's closest friends, while Yang is one with deep pockets. Records obtained by DailyMail.com show that she donated $8,100 to the Trump Victory Fund in 2018, listing her occupation on federal election forms as Chairman of the Women's Charity Foundation

She is also a Trump Republican, having beenann inactive voter with no declared political party for the decade before the current president ran for office.

Miami Herald, Trump cheered Patriots to Super Bowl victory with founder of spa where Kraft was busted, Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, miami herald logoand Caitlin Ostroff, March 8, 2019. Li Yang, 45, posed with Donald Trump during the Super Bowl while rooting for the Patriots. Two weeks later, authorities would charge the team owner, Robert Kraft, with soliciting prostitution at a spa in Jupiter that Yang had founded.

Seated at a round table littered with party favors and the paper-cutout footballs that have become tradition at his annual Super Bowl Watch Party, President Donald Trump cheered the New England Patriots and his longtime friend, team owner Robert Kraft (shown in a file photo), to victory robert kraft twitterover the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3.

Sometime during the party at Trump’s West Palm Beach country club, the president turned in his chair to look over his right shoulder, smiling for a photo with two women at a table behind him.

The woman who snapped the blurry Super Bowl selfie with the president was Li Yang, 45, a self-made entrepreneur from China who started a chain of Asian day spas in South Florida. Over the years, these establishments — many of which operate under the name Tokyo Day Spas — have gained a reputation for offering sexual services.

March 7

Manafort Sentencing

Forbes, Commentary: The Judge Who Let Manafort Off Easy With 47 Months Is An Arch-Conservative, Charles Tiefer, March 7, 2019. It is striking that a judge just sentenced Paul Manafort, a major target of the Mueller investigation, to only 47 months in prison. The Sentencing Guidelines justified a sentence well above fifteen years. It was all-important that Manafort, who had been the head of the Trump presidential campaign, receive a strong sentence.

This was partly for the general reason in sentencing, to send the message to potential malefactors of the consequences. But, it was also needed to persuade Manafort to tell Mueller (and, eventually, in some forum, the public) the truth about President Trump and Russia.

Instead, this weak sentence sends these kind of messages of a conservative judge: it is not so bad to use Republican connections to cash in with Putin’s allies; Trump’s campaign manager is worthy of much, much more respect than in the Sentencing Guidelines; Mueller’s quest for the Russia connection deserves little help, and some messages.

Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis was nominated to the bench in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, who of course favored very conservative picks. Before then, he had worked since 1970 for Hunton and Williams, a very well known, quite conservative, Richmond firm.

President Reagan nominated Judge Ellis to the Eastern District of Virginia. Presidents have a special reason to want to stack that particular court with strong conservatives. The Pentagon and the CIA are in that district. There is a great desire among conservatives to stack that district court to handle the cases that concern national security brought in that district, including espionage cases.

Take a comparison of the Manafort case with another prosecution of a political figure, a black Democratic Congressman from a black district in Louisiana named William J. Jefferson. (I was a peripheral observer of that case. The FBI had raided Jefferson’s Congressional office and carried off his computer hard drive. The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the violation of Congressional independence by that raid, and I was the principal witness (because I knew the established limits on prosecution tactics as a former House General Counsel and I was now a professor.))

Jefferson’s case was basically bribery. It was nationally famous because agents raiding his house found cash in the freezer.

Manafort may have gotten off easy with four years, but Ellis threw the book at Jefferson. In 2009 Ellis sentenced Jefferson to 13 years, the longest sentence of any Congressman to that date. (After further twists and turns Ellis let off Jefferson in December 2017 for five years time served.) It seems that while Judge Ellis can sympathize with Manafort, the Republican presidential campaign manager, he did not sympathize with Jefferson.

Everything now depends on the sentence Manafort receives in