Saturday, March 31, 2018

Kushner and Sessions at odds

In the final months of the Obama administration, the Justice Department announced a new approach to preparing prisoners for life beyond their cells. Officials created a prison school system, pledged money for technology training and promised to help prevent former inmates from returning to prison.

Almost immediately after taking office, Trump administration officials began undoing their work. Budgets were slashed, the school system was scrapped and studies were shelved as Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought to bear his tough-on-crime philosophy and deep skepticism of Obama-era crime-fighting policies.

Bad on Trump. Very bad. But bad on Obama as well. Why did they wait until the last days and then try to cram through a bunch of stuff? They had eight years to reform the prison system.
Now, nearly a year and a half later, the White House has declared that reducing recidivism and improving prisoner education is a top priority — echoing some of the very policies it helped dismantle.

This whiplash approach to federal prison policy reflects the tension between Jared Kushner, the president’s reform-minded son-in-law and senior adviser, and Mr. Sessions, a hard-liner whose views on criminal justice were forged at the height of the drug war.


On Capitol Hill, a wholesale reconsideration of American sentencing laws and prison policies has bipartisan support. Dozens of senators have sponsored a bill to change mandatory-minimum sentences and ease drug laws that have been used to seek lengthy sentences for nonviolent offenders. The bill also includes provisions to expand education, worker training and drug rehabilitation programs in prison

Mr. Kushner, administration officials say, supports such sweeping change. Mr. Sessions is adamantly opposed.


Mr. Kushner’s father served prison time for tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations. His son has convinced advocates for an overhaul, even those who are not natural allies, that he personally cares about the issue.
Kushner may be thinking ahead to the day when he gets sentenced to some hard time, and Jeff Sessions may be too ignorant to realize he's in any danger of the same.
Mr. Sessions promised last fall that he would work with the Senate to address those laws. “We’ve never had any dialogue since,” said Mr. Grassley, one of Mr. Trump’s most important Capitol Hill allies during his first year in office. “I resent the president not helping me more, when I worked so hard to push along his judicial nominees.”
Did Grassley pay no attention at all to Trump's record on returning favors to anyone who doesn't have anything on him?
Mr. Grassley said that he while appreciated Mr. Kushner’s desire to get something done, he did not support any effort to try to address prisons without fixing what he saw as fundamental unfairness in sentencing laws. And he believes Mr. Kushner shares his views. “But he sees a chance of getting half a loaf, and he’s willing to settle for a half a loaf,” Mr. Grassley said. “I’m not going to.”
I'm not feeling as confident about Mr. Grassley's prospects as he appears to be.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Jesus Christ, these people

Was there ever a more inept administration in all of US history?
The White House is now asserting that recently departed Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin resigned. Shulkin has made it clear in his public comments that he was forced out.


Shulkin’s removal happened so quickly, [a person familiar with the situation] said, that he was never given the opportunity to return to his office or address VA employees. Shulkin, for his part, has publicly criticized the White House fo


While Washington often wraps firings in the verbal cloak of a resignation, the distinction this time could have far-reaching implications that could throw the Department of Veterans Affairs, the second-largest federal agency, into further disarray.


The debate centers on vague language in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, which gives the president broad authority to temporarily fill a vacancy at a federal agency with an acting official if the current office holder “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.”

But some legal experts note that the law does not explicitly grant that authority to the president in the case of firings. That could make Trump’s decision to [bypass Shulkin's deputy director and] appoint [Robert] Wilkie, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, as acting VA secretary a potential test of the president’s authorities under the act.


Wilkie could serve as acting VA chief for several months while Trump’s nominee to permanently lead the department, White House physician Ronny Jackson, awaits confirmation in the Senate.

Any significant policy decision Wilkie makes during that time could prompt a challenge from an injured party claiming that Wilkie doesn’t have the legal authority to lead the department in an acting capacity.


When POLITICO asked the White House for comment about the potential legal issues surrounding Shulkin’s replacement, spokeswoman Lindsey Walters said in a statement, “Secretary Shulkin resigned from his position as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Like hell he did. He found out he was fired by Trump tweet, like others before him. If he resigned, let's see his resignation letter.
The Justice Department, for its part, has suggested that firings are applicable under the Vacancies Act. In 1999 guidance issued shortly after the act was signed into law, DOJ acknowledged that the “full range” of what would constitute a vacancy under the act is “unspecified.” But the guidance noted that senators mentioned the issue of firing when debating the legislation.
Then why are they lying about Shulkin resigning?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

When you want to play both sides of the fence

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Roseanne Barr is a nutball

Where in god's name is she getting her information?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


A backlash and demands for evidence prompted Roseanne to drop and run.

Since it's Passover?

Even that tweet no longer appears.  But there's this more recent one:

I'll pass, Roseanne.


The case to keep the base slavering

A woman in Texas was sentenced Wednesday to a five-year prison term for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election while on supervised release for a tax fraud conviction.

When she voted in the 2016 election, Crystal Mason had already served almost three years in prison for her fraud conviction but had not yet completed her sentence and was still serving a three-year supervised release period, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Convicted felons lose their voting rights in Texas until they complete their full sentences, including parole and probation.

Mason reportedly told the court, however, that she was not aware of that prohibition and had not been informed that she was ineligible to vote until her sentence was complete.


Her attorney has already filed an appeal. "I think Texas law is extreme in terms of sentencing people to prison for voting violations," he said.

Mason signed an affidavit in order to cast a provisional ballot, which stated that it is a violation of the law to vote if you are a convicted felon, but Mason did not see that part of the ballot, St. John said.

And they'll be using this one case to point to and keep screaming that there's a national crisis of voter fraud. Sort of like the welfare queen bullshit that was the Reagan rallying cry.

And, of course, the woman in Texas is black.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


That's a true story.
The woman said that she wanted to make sure that she voted for Trump in her mother’s name to fulfill her last wish.

“If anything happens, you have my power of attorney and you be sure to vote for Donald Trump for me,” the woman’s mother purportedly told her shortly before she died.

Prosecutors decided against charging the woman with a crime because she sincerely believed that impersonating a dead person at her local polling place was not an act of voter fraud.

  Raw Story

The danger of Bolton

He's amoral, ruthless, and now very, very powerful.

A bully.  Just Trump's type.
The bullies have come together. The “ideological” and “brutal” Bolton is about to be given a desk a few feet away from the Oval Office. As national security adviser, he’ll be the first one in the room and the last one out. “Trump is utterly ignorant of the world, prone to making impulsive decisions, and tends to defer to the most forceful voice in the room, especially when it conveys information with confident bluster,” observed Damon Linker in the The Week. “That would give Bolton enormous power to shape policy — which means the power to get the United States to launch big new wars as well as expand the numerous ones we’re already waging across wide swaths of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.”


“John Bolton is a bully,” José Bustani, the retired Brazilian diplomat and former head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told me when I reached him by phone in Paris earlier this month.


In early 2002, a year before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration was putting intense pressure on Bustani to quit as director-general of the OPCW — despite the fact that he had been unanimously re-elected to head the 145-nation body just two years earlier. His transgression? Negotiating with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to allow OPCW weapons inspectors to make unannounced visits to that country — thereby undermining Washington’s rationale for regime change.

In 2001, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had penned a letter to Bustani, thanking him for his “very impressive” work. By March 2002, however, Bolton — then serving as under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs — arrived in person at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague to issue a warning to the organization’s chief. And, according to Bustani, Bolton didn’t mince words. “Cheney wants you out,” Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. “We can’t accept your management style.”

Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”

There was a pause.

“We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”

Bustani told me he was taken aback but refused to back down. “My family is aware of the situation, and we are prepared to live with the consequences of my decision,” he replied.


According to Time magazine, his former boss Colin Powell privately warned Republican senators in 2005, during the confirmation hearings for Bolton’s controversial nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that “he had been troubled by the way Bolton had treated subordinates who did not agree with him.”

Mehdi Hasan's interview with José Bustani.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Speaking of Fox News...

Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, who left Fox News as a contributor with a fiery resignation letter earlier this month, made the new claims in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Friday.

He asserted that the network “preaches paranoia, attacking processes and institutions vital to our republic and challenging the rule of law."

Peters said that he remained with the network despite his concerns over its coverage because he “rationalized that I could make a difference by remaining at Fox and speaking honestly.”

“I was wrong,” he added.

Peters wrote that he was not invited on segments about Russia despite being “the one person on the Fox payroll who, trained in Russian studies and the Russian language, had been face to face with Russian intelligence officers in the Kremlin and in far-flung provinces.”

“Listening to political hacks with no knowledge of things Russian tell the vast Fox audience that the special counsel’s investigation was a ‘witch hunt,’ while I could not respond, became too much to bear. There is indeed a witch hunt, and it’s led by Fox against [special counsel] Robert Mueller,” he wrote.


“With my Soviet-studies background, the cult of Trump unnerves me. For our society’s health, no one, not even a president, can be above criticism — or the law,” Peters said.

The former network analyst quit earlier this month, calling Fox News a "propaganda machine."

He was also suspended from Fox News for two weeks in 2015 for using a profanity to criticize then-President Obama.

  The Hill
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

We break 'em, you fix 'em

President Trump ordered the State Department to freeze $200 million in funds to help recovery efforts in Syria, a sign of the president's growing skepticism over the United States' involvement in the war-torn country.

Trump froze the funds after reading a news report that the U.S. had agreed to provide an additional $200 million to bolster recovery and stabilization efforts in Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the additional funding in Kuwait in February during a ministerial meeting of the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Trump has since fired Tillerson as head of the State Department.

Trump has appeared increasingly eager for an early U.S. exit from Syria. During a speech in Ohio on Thursday, he said that the U.S. would be "coming out of Syria, like, very soon," and called on other countries to "take care of it now."


A State Department spokesperson said the agency "continues to work with the international community, members of the Coalition, and our partners on the ground to provide much needed stabilization support to vulnerable areas in Syria."

The spokesperson acknowledged that funding is constantly reevaluated but did not confirm the Syrian stabilization funding was frozen.

  The Hill
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Fox' Laura Ingraham still bleeding advertisers

Add Ruby Tuesday and Liberty Mutual to the list of companies pulling advertising from Ingraham's show.  (Previous companies that pulled out.)

It couldn't happen to a more deserving twat.  Fox News certainly understands:  Miss Laura is "taking vacation".
Ingraham on her show Friday night described the vacation as a pre-planned break with her children for the Easter holiday.

“A blessed Good Friday and Passover to all of you; I’ll be off next week for Easter break with my kids,” she said. "Fear not. We've got a great lineup of guest hosts to fill in for me."


"The Ingraham Angle," which launched five months ago, finished fourth in the cable news ratings race in total viewers in February, averaging more than 2.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Only "Hannity,” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox and "The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC delivered more viewers last month.


At least 14 companies have stopped advertising on Ingraham's show in the days since the Fox News host mocked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg for being rejected from colleges.


The only blue-chip company to advertise on Ingraham’s show Friday night was IBM, according to Variety.

  The Hill
So the teenager who couldn't get into the college of his choice can take down a Fox News show.  The GOP will be taking note, I'm sure.
Otherwise, many of the sponsors were direct-response advertisers like, or lesser-known entities such as the American Petroleum Institute, Interstate Batteries and KT Tape. Fox News also filled commercial breaks with promos for hosts like Bret Baier, or the mid-morning team of Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.



There goes another:  Miracle-Ear pulled its ads.

And another:  Bayer pharmaceuticals.

Friday, March 30, 2018

You have got to be kidding

With a straight face, no doubt.  Unbelievable.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Roger Stone isn't sweating bullets

Now that's funny.  Typical Trump/Stone/Cohen threat: a lawsuit.

And here's the ridiculous video he has posted.

Plus, Nunberg's every bit as juvenile rejoinder:

Sam and Roger probably snorted their brains out with each other on a regular basis. 

These are the people who influence American policy. 

Jesus wept.

Et tu Fox?

The three top cable news networks all cut away from President Trump's speech in Ohio on Wednesday before it ended, prompting complaints from the White House.

The speech was set to focus on infrastructure but saw the president go off script to touch on other topics.

It started just after 2 p.m, but within 30 minutes of Trump taking the stage CNN and MSNBC cut away to discussions with analysts and to report other news. Fox News remained on the speech for about ten minutes longer, according to social media reports, before cutting away also.

  The Hill
Wow. Even Fox. But not entirely...
Fox Business Network, which was also covering the speech, stayed with Trump for the duration of his remarks.
The problem there is that most of his base are probably not watching any business news channel.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Jim Carrey is at it again

Not that anyone would have expected him to be cowed by criticism of his portrait of Sarah H-Sanders*.

Here's his latest:

He certainly has all the elements included.


I missed this one of Jared Kushner:

It's Friday

This is Mueller's DC grand jury day, and I'd like to see some indictments.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE 3/31:
Just saw this:

Fox News reaps the whirlwind

David Hogg, the Parkland student that Laura Ingraham tried to humiliate on Twitter, may not be getting into the college of his choice, but he's schooling Ingraham and her employer, Fox News.  And, by extension, the GOP and the NRA, as they begin to see just what power the Parkland students are wielding.

(Background post.)
At least five companies said they were dropping advertisements from Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show after the conservative pundit mocked a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre on Twitter and he responded with a call for a boycott.


On Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology “in the spirit of Holy Week”, saying she was sorry for any hurt or upset she caused Hogg or any of the “brave victims” of Parkland.

I bet she did.
“For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David … immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy,” Ingraham tweeted.
Nice try. No cigar.

Johnson & Johnson, Nutrish (Rachael Ray), TripAdvisor, Wayfair, Nestlé  & Expedia pulled their ads.
Hogg wrote on Twitter that an apology just to mollify advertisers was insufficient. He said he would accept it only if Ingraham denounced the way Fox News treated him and his friends.

“It’s time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children,” Hogg tweeted.
Back to you, Laura.


There goes Office Depot.
At least 11 advertisers have now pulled their support from Ingraham's show after she mocked Parkland, Fla., high school shooting survivor David Hogg on Wednesday over his college rejections.

  The Hill
Additions to the above list: Hulu, Jenny Craig, Stitch Fix, and Atlantis Paradise Island Resort.

UPDATE 3/31:

Still bleeding advertisers, and Ingraham is "taking vacation".

Thursday, March 29, 2018


No one will talk to the Russian ambassador.  This is nuts.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Such a bastard

A chickenshit bastard.

He says Trump was talking about the progress being made and how to go forward.  Kelly gave him "a head's up" after the phone call and right before the tweet. 

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Looks like Oprah will be running in 2020 after all

Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

This will be an interesting experiment

It could give the GOP a hint as to the power the Parkland activists will have in this year's elections, and beyond.
[Fox News host Laura] Ingraham had tweeted a Daily Wire story earlier Wednesday about Parkland student David Hogg not getting into four colleges he had applied to.

“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates,)” she tweeted.


Hogg has emerged as a national figure in the weeks since the mass shooting at his Florida high school that left 17 people dead. He helped to organize and lead the March for Our Lives in D.C. on Saturday.

  The Hill
Laura Ingraham lives and works from a gutter.

Hogg responded:

I'd be interested to know how that turns out.

(BTW, Hogg did get accepted to a college...just not his first choice.  How many high school seniors have that same experience?  Did Laura Ingraham go to college?  Also, I'll be expecting to see Hogg go straight into politics from whatever college he attends.)

UPDATE 3/30:

Looks like Hogg is already winning this one.
At least five companies said they were dropping advertisements from Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show after the conservative pundit mocked a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre on Twitter and he responded with a call for a boycott.


On Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology “in the spirit of Holy Week”, saying she was sorry for any hurt or upset she caused Hogg or any of the “brave victims” of Parkland.

I bet she did.
“For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David … immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy,” Ingraham tweeted.
Nice try. No cigar.
But her apology did not stop companies from departing.
Johnson & Johnson, Nutrish (Rachael Ray), TripAdvisor, Wayfair, Nestle & Expedia pulled their ads.
Hogg wrote on Twitter that an apology just to mollify advertisers was insufficient. He said he would accept it only if Ingraham denounced the way Fox News treated him and his friends.

“It’s time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children,” Hogg tweeted.
Back to you, Laura.

UPDATE 3/31:

Ingraham's show is bleeding advertisers, and she's "taking vacation".

Who stocks the swamp?

Want to work in the Trump administration?  Get a job at Fox News.

John Bolton, Heather Nauert, Larry Kudlow, Mercedes Schlapp, Tony Sayegh...who's next?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Time unmasks Jeff Sessions on its cover

Somebody set the lighting for this on purpose.



They really took a point of view with their photography.  Online:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Another lawsuit against Trump will now go forward

A federal judge said Wednesday that a lawsuit alleging gifts or payments from foreign and domestic governments made to President Donald Trump may be illegal can proceed.


Maryland and DC have argued that the Trump International Hotel's operations put other nearby hotel and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions.

Messitte did not make any rulings on the allegations in the case, which accuse Trump of taking illegal gifts from foreign governments through his family's business, violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause.


[The judge] notes multiple times, for instance, that foreign governments have moved business from the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton hotels in Washington to the "President's Hotel."


[T]he ruling from Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland says the Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general who brought the case will have to focus it on the Trump Organization's operations in Washington. That means the case going forward will challenge payments made by foreign officials for services at the Trump International Hotel, but will not include visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida or other Trump properties.

Which may simply mean new filings will be made in Florida.

I hope Iran is bulking up its defenses.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Meanwhile, some crazy cyber shit is happening

I thought it was because of the proximity to a naval base, but did I not say at the time that it seemed silly considering the fact that so much attacking these days goes on through cyberspace?  Why yes, I believe I did.
Why Seattle? Is it the Russian consulate in the US closest to Russia? Can they see Russia from their front porch? 

The officials said that the closure of the consulate in Seattle was ordered because of its proximity to a U.S. naval base.
“Today’s actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security,” the White House said in a statement.
Except spying in the age of cyber hacking seems to be the currently preferred method. They can do that from anywhere.

Anyway, Boeing headquarters is indeed in Seattle.
Boeing was hit by the WannaCry computer virus Wednesday, initially raising fears within the company that airplane production could be affected. Later Boeing played down the impact and called it a “limited intrusion” with production unaffected.


After the cyberattack struck, Mike VanderWel, chief engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, sent out an alarming memo calling for “All hands on deck.”

“It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down,” VanderWel wrote, adding his concern that the virus could hit equipment used in functional tests of airplanes ready to roll out and potentially “spread to airplane software.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, however, Boeing issued a statement dialing back those fears.

“Our cybersecurity operations center detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems,” Boeing said. “Remediations were applied and this is not a production and delivery issue.”

  Seattle Times
But they would, wouldn't they?
The WannaCry virus, which exploits a flaw in Windows software to gain access to a network, attacks computers using “ransomware.”

It was designed to lock users out of their data by encrypting files until they pay a fee, sometimes in cryptocurrency, or other type of ransom.

Ransomware attacks have increased in recent years. The city of Atlanta experienced a five-day ransomware attack that was mostly fixed by Tuesday.


Jake Williams, founder of cybersecurity consultancy Rendition Infosec, said the ransomware part of the WannaCry virus is broken and there’s actually no way to pay a ransom that will retrieve files once encrypted.


Microsoft issued patches to plug the vulnerability [after worldwide attacks by the virus in May 2017]. However, Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer of Seattle security technology firm WatchGuard Technologies, said some companies with specialized equipment don’t update very often for fear their custom-built systems will be in danger.


Mitchell Edwards, a Dallas, Texas-based cyberthreat intelligence analyst, said that although a so-called “kill switch” fix for the WannaCry virus was quickly developed, other hackers were also quick to produce WannaCry variants that could defeat the fix.

He said the virus used to attack Boeing was unlikely to be the original WannaCry virus but an updated version.


He said the virus is unlikely to have had a big impact on production.

“Obviously, Boeing isn’t going to be running its entire production network on Windows,” he said. “I hope not. So it’s likely a limited infection.”
"I hope not."
Williams of Rendition Infosec was less optimistic about that.

He said he knows of three manufacturing companies, two of them now his clients in the U.S., that suffered production stoppages due to WannaCry infections in the last six months.

He said one plant was down for 24 hours, another for 96 hours. In both cases, configuration files that controlled machines were lost and systems had to be re-installed from scratch before production could restart.


“Tons of manufacturing equipment runs on Windows. I was surprised,” said Williams.


Once the Boeing cyberattack news broke, some on social media raised the “nightmare scenario” of the virus infecting an airplane’s control software and possibly triggering a ransomware demand while in the air.

Edwards dismissed this as “hysteria.” Nachreiner and Williams agreed.

“I don’t think that’s realistic,” said Williams. “I don’t think any of Boeing’s planes or any aircraft anywhere run Embedded Windows. It’s not suitable for applications that require consistent, real-time availability without delay because lives depend on it.”
I hope not.

Must be that infrastructure week Trump's always talking about.

The consulate in Seattle is being shuttered because of its proximity to a U.S. submarine base and Boeing's operations there, a senior administration official said. The consulate must close by April 2.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

WTF? - part 2

Is admitting to it on live television enough to cause Cohen to lose his license to practice, or would Trump have to file a complaint for that to happen?  Trump wouldn't, of course, but the reputations of these people is in the dirt.  Along with everyone who gets entangled with Trump and does his bidding.


...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Very strange.  For one thing, I'm sure it's a lie.  It may be what Cohen is telling him, but it's not true.

Even stranger...

Prepare for war with Iran.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Regarding Dowd and Pardons

More on this in a discussion on MSNBC.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

As rumored, there goes Shulkin

It's after 5:00 pm.  Do you suppose Shulkin got notice before the tweet?

Almost.  What's worrisome is that we're being asked to turn veterans' health over to a man who lies to please the president.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE 3/29:

He says Trump was talking about the progress being made and how to go forward.  Kelly gave him "a head's up" after the phone call and right before the tweet. 

Chickenshit bastard.  It's how he fires everybody.  What a disgusting prick.

Trump's DOJ wasting more of their time and your money

Still playing games around the Steele dossier and the FISA warrant on Carter Page.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Is Dowd leaking sour grapes already?

A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.


Mr. Dowd has said privately that he did not know why Mr. Flynn had accepted a plea, according to one of the people. He said he had told Mr. Kelner that the president had long believed that the case against Mr. Flynn was flimsy and was prepared to pardon him, the person said.


It is unclear whether Mr. Dowd discussed the pardons with Mr. Trump before bringing them up with the other lawyers.

  New York Times
Really?? Why would he ever go out on his own to offer them such a deal? That's like trying to make us believe that Michael Cohen, of his own volition and apparently extremely generous heart, paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money without consulting his client, Spanky. It's only unclear if you make a habit of staying confused in the face of common sense and circumstantial evidence.
Mr. Dowd, who was hired last year to defend the president during the Mueller inquiry, took the lead in dealing directly with Mr. Flynn’s and Mr. Manafort’s lawyers, according to two people familiar with how the legal team operated.

He denied on Wednesday that he discussed pardons with lawyers for the president’s former advisers.

“There were no discussions. Period,” Mr. Dowd said. “As far as I know, no discussions.”
Of course not. As far as I can tell about Trump and anyone associated with him, that denial doesn't preclude the possibility that Dowd himself is leaking this allegation.
During interviews with Mr. Mueller’s investigators in recent months, current and former administration officials have recounted conversations they had with the president about potential pardons for former aides under investigation by the special counsel, according to two people briefed on the interviews.

In one meeting with lawyers from the White House Counsel’s Office last year, Mr. Trump asked about the extent of his pardon power, according to a person briefed on the conversation. The lawyers explained that the president’s powers were broad, the person said. And in other meetings with senior advisers, the president raised the prospect of pardoning Mr. Flynn, according to two people present.


“There are few powers in the Constitution as absolute as the pardon power — it is exclusively the president’s and cannot be burdened by the courts or the legislature,” he said. “It would be very difficult to look at the president’s motives in issuing a pardon to make an obstruction case.”
There's plenty of other evidence to make that case.
But pardon power is not unlimited, said Samuel W. Buell, a professor of law at Duke University.

“The framers did not create the power to pardon as a way for the president to protect himself and his associates” from being prosecuted for their own criminal behavior, he said.

Under Mr. Buell’s interpretation, Mr. Dowd’s efforts could be used against the president in an obstruction case if prosecutors want to demonstrate that it was part of larger conspiracy to impede the special counsel investigation.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.


And I would expect Manafort has good reason to expect a pardon.  On the other hand, he, too has the issue of a state prosecution.  So there's more to his stubbornness than expecting a pardon.  I'm guessing it has to do with fear of the Russian mob.


Which is a good reason for Dowd to deny doing it.

More on this in a discussion on MSNBC.

An interesting twist in the DNC-Guccifer hacking story

On Jeremy Scahill's current podcast, ex-CIA officer Ray McGovern tells Jeremy that Bill Binney, ex-NSA intelligence officer, computer programmer and whistle-blower, has researched the DNC hack and determined it was an inside job. The reason he gives is that the download time to get the files was too short to have been done outside the system. The time it took to download the emails suggests it was done from the internal system onto a thumb drive. IF that's true, who would have done that and then turned the file over to the Russian Guccifer? Or is that how it happened?

Lots of questions, lots of answers. Are any of them right?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


click the pic for the video.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

This should be fun

Or it could be what gets us into war with Iran and/or North Korea.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

They say people are calling him "Spanky" after that Stormy Daniels interview.

Drip, drip, drip

Trump tells people Amazon has gotten a free ride from taxpayers and cushy treatment from the U.S. Postal Service. His real estate buddies tell him — and he agrees — that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers. [“He’s obsessed with Amazon,” a source said. “Obsessed.”]

"Per two senior administration officials, Trump continued to rail privately about the omnibus bill, and has become convinced of things that aren’t true about it," the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman tweeted yesterday.

Trump's conviction that the Paris climate deal is "killing" the U.S., when in reality it's a voluntary and pretty toothless agreement.

Trump officials like Gary Cohn who favor free trade have felt like "Groundhog Day" trying to explain trade deficits to him.

Perhaps a big factor in why Cohn is leaving. Tired of trying to work for a "fucking moron" knowing his own name is on the record as the bottom line.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Maine flirts with ranked choice voting

If only we could have this system nationwide.
The people's veto campaign to overturn a law that would eventually repeal Maine's landmark ranked-choice voting system has qualified for the June ballot.


That means that, barring any future legal challenges, voters participating in this June's primary elections will test the ranked-choice voting system at the same time they're deciding whether they want to continue using it for some contests.


In 2016, voters approved the system for all legislative, gubernatorial and congressional elections. But last year Maine's Supreme Judicial Court said the system was unconstitutional for certain general election races, including gubernatorial contests.

Ranked-choice supporters pushed for a constitutional amendment, but it never advanced in the Legislature. Instead, lawmakers passed a bill last year that repeals the voter-approved system in 2021 if the state constitution isn't amended before then.


If voters ratify the people's veto, it means that ranked-choice voting will remain in place for primary contests and general elections for congressional races, but not general elections for governor or the state Legislature.

  Maine Public
That sounds awfully confusing. I hope the voters understand it.

No wonder Gates decided he should cooperate with Mueller

[D]ocuments, filed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team [yesterday], allege that Rick Gates, a longtime business partner of Manafort and President Trump's former deputy campaign manager, was aware that an unidentified associate "was a former Russian Intelligence Officer."

The documents also allege that Gates and the individual continued to communicate with one another in the months before the 2016 presidential election. Such communication "was pertinent to the investigation," prosecutors said.

  The Hill
I guess so. And considering the fact that Gates was Manafort's assistant when Manafort was heading up the Trump campaign at that time, this little tidbit should squeeze the vice on him even tighter. And perhaps clue the Trump attorney team - such as it is - that they really are in deep doodoo.

Lordy, I hope Trump is "interviewed" by Mueller.  Wouldn't you like a front row seat to that?
The FBI's assessment was made public in a sentencing memo filed late Tuesday in the case of Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to investigators about his contacts with Gates and the unidentified associate.

In the memo, prosecutors said that van der Zwaan acknowledged to special counsel investigators in an interview that Gates had told him of the associate's ties to a Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU.

The individual in question is referred to in the court filings only as "Person A." The Washington Post reported Tuesday, however, that the associate matches the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Russian employee of Manafort.

Kilimnik has previously denied having ties to Russian intelligence. He told the Post in a statement in June that he has "no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service."
...but hey, do what you will anyway.


The swamp is constantly restocked

Check out Charlie Pierce's post on Elliott Broidy, wherein Charlie puzzles why Old Lard Ass "can't find himself a good lawyer." 

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A rapist mobster in the White House

Not to put too fine a point on it.
As it turns out, yes. The most significant aspect of the Stormy Daniels case is not the sexual relationship, which she says was consensual [...] What matters is the Trump team’s alleged use of non-disclosure agreements, payoffs, and threats to intimidate a target into silence.


Shortly after her 2011 interview, Ms. Daniels says she was threatened by one of Mr. Trump’s associates while with her infant daughter: “A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’” she told Anderson Cooper. “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.’”

Shaken by the focus on her daughter, Ms. Daniels was too terrified to even go to the police. She stayed silent for five years, and in 2016, took a US$130,000 payoff from Mr. Cohen to stay that way. This was a sensible course of action given Mr. Trump’s four-decade history of getting ruthless lawyers to threaten any potential opponent with financial ruin – a pattern that begins with Mr. Trump’s employment of political operative Roy Cohn in the 1970s and continues with Mr. Cohen today. Mr. Trump’s main weapon of choice may be the NDA, but his team makes sure to imply that other weapons can be used as well.

In July, 2015, shortly after Mr. Trump declared his candidacy, the Daily Beast attempted to report on court documents stating that Mr. Trump had raped his ex-wife, Ivana. The inquiry into the case prompted a response from Mr. Cohen that mirrors the threat to Ms. Daniels: “I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting,” Mr. Cohen told the Daily Beast reporter. “You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet …”

Few media outlets reported on the allegation after that, and the media were similarly timid in reporting other allegations of sexual assault – most notably, that of a 13-year-old girl who said in a lawsuit that Mr. Trump raped her in 1994 while in the company of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of Mr. Trump’s who was an alleged trafficker of underage girls. In her affidavit, the alleged victim claims that Mr. Trump told her to stay silent since he was capable of having her whole family killed, and noted that another victim, a 12-year-old named Maria, had disappeared.

On Nov. 2, 2016 – a few days before the election – that accuser and her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, were scheduled to hold a press conference. According to Ms. Bloom, the press conference was abruptly cancelled due to intense threats to their safety, including a bomb threat. Two days later, the accuser dropped her lawsuit.

  Sarah Kendzior @ The Globe and Mail

Stormy's lawyer is on the case

Oh dear.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A different Christopher Steele report

That's an RT article headline from early November, 2015.
Mikhail Lesin, a prominent Russian political figure and mass media expert credited with inspiring the creation of Russia Today (now RT), has died in Washington, DC after a heart attack.

Lesin, a former press minister and ex-head of Gazprom-Media, Russia’s largest media holding, died at the age of 57 on Wednesday, according to family members. “Mikhail Lesin died from a heart stroke,” a family member told RIA Novosti.

Meanwhile, TASS has reported that Lesin was found dead in his hotel room in Washington, DC, citing the Russian Embassy in the US. Police found no signs of foul play, but a formal investigation has been launched. It has been reported that Lesin had been suffering from a prolonged unidentified illness.

Fast forward to a BuzzFeed article today:
The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

The report, according to four sources who have read all or parts of it, was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who also wrote the famous dossier alleging that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump.


Both the UK and the US have blamed the Kremlin for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England this month, using a rare nerve agent that endangered bystanders. (Russia has denied it was behind the poisoning.) In the wake of that attack, the British government has opened a review of all 14 suspicious deaths linked to Russia that a BuzzFeed News investigation exposed last year.

  • Steele’s report says that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin, the four sources said.

  • The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far, the sources said Steele wrote.

  • Three of the sources said that the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.

  • The Steele report is not the FBI's only source for this account of Lesin's death: Three other people, acting independently from Steele, said they also told the FBI that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for the same oligarch named by Steele.
Lesin’s corpse was found in a Washington, DC, hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015. The coroner determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities.

All that was consistent with a heart attack?
After an 11-month investigation, a federal prosecutor announced in late 2016 that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” with the coroner adding acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing cause of death, and prosecutors closed the case.
His room must have been full of furniture that he kept falling on as he continued to get up and have another go at walking. I wonder what he hit his neck on.
“What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died,” an FBI agent told BuzzFeed News last year. “Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”


For his report to the FBI about Lesin, Steele gathered intelligence from high-level sources in Moscow, according to the two sources who read the whole report.

All four of the people who read Steele’s report said it pins Lesin’s murder on a professional relationship gone lethally awry. According to the report, they said, Lesin fell out with a powerful oligarch close to Putin. Wanting to intimidate Lesin, the oligarch then contracted with Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin, the report states, according to three of the sources. The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack.
Perhaps as a result of a heart attack incurred while being severely beaten.

Since the outcry over the poisoning death of Russian spy Sergei Skripal in England recently, the British government has agreed to review the case of Lesin, along with another 13 suspcious deaths exposed by BuzzFeed that are allegedly linked to Russia.?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Dear God

Perhaps Trump does need his own personal intelligence agency.

Important announcement

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy

Not long ago, Devin Nunes was an obscure Republican congressman accustomed to running for re-election essentially unopposed as he quietly ascended the ranks in Washington.

But his starring role in one of the defining sagas of the Donald Trump presidency has provoked a real threat back home. His work defending the White House from questions about Russian meddling in U.S. elections has made Nunes a vulnerable target in the midterms, even though Trump won his central California district by 10 percentage points.

A local prosecutor, Democrat Andrew Janz, is on track to raise $1 million this quarter after raking in more money online than any Democrat in the country, except for Conor Lamb, who won the recent special election in Pennsylvania.

I can't wait for the Mueller team to announce an indictment against Nunes for his participation in the Trump campaign "collusion" with Russia. Will they call the House Intel Committee report null and void?

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Annnnd...yet another law firm that won't represent Trump

A prominent Chicago defense attorney said Monday that he had declined an invitation to lead President Trump’s legal team responding to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, underscoring the president’s difficulty in attracting top legal talent to represent him in the probe.

Dan K. Webb, a Republican, is a former U.S. attorney for Illinois and a corporate and white-collar-defense lawyer for the firm Winston and Strawn.

And, apparently not a total fool.

I thought Trump was "happy with" the attorneys he has now and wasn't looking for any new ones.

Two days ago:

In a statement, his firm said the president and his team recently reached out to Webb and D.C.-based partner Tom Buchanan.

“They were unable to take on the representation due to business conflicts. However they consider the opportunity to represent the President to be the highest honor and they sincerely regret that they cannot do so,” the firm said.
Yeah, we know.
Trump and his allies have been reaching out to several lawyers in recent weeks, including some who had turned Trump down after he interviewed them last spring and summer to be his personal lawyer in Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election and whether the president’s campaign coordinated with Russia in this effort.
He thought hee had a better chance NOW?

Well, he has Cobb and Sekulow. Actually, really only Sekulow for a personal attorney. Cobb represents the office of the president.
Sekulow is a constitutional lawyer and radio host who has been quick to acknowledge that he lacks the experience to oversee a complex criminal investigation like the one the White House and Trump now face.
Oh, darn.
Sekulow is a constitutional lawyer and radio host who has been quick to acknowledge that he lacks the experience to oversee a complex criminal investigation like the one the White House and Trump now face.


Trump had asked Sekulow to reach out to Theodore B. Olson on March 19. By the next morning, after The Washington Post reported the offer to Olson, his firm — Gibson, Dunn — was insisting that Olson would not take the job.

Olson said Monday in a television appearance on MSNBC that the White House appeared to be in regular “turmoil” and “chaos” with a new departure and White House shake-up every other day. “This seems to be beyond normal,” Olson said.
So, not likely to change his mind about representation, huh?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

She's not his type

President Trump has privately told several people that Stormy Daniels’s allegations of an affair with him are a “hoax” and that Daniels isn’t the type of woman he finds attractive, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The president has publicly been silent about the Stormy Daniels controversy, but after she appeared on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night and shared the details of her alleged affair, Trump privately attacked her and her media tour among administration staffers.

  The Hill
So if she's not his type, then ex-body guard Keith Shiller is going to testify that he never acted as a go-between and never stood guard outside the door while she and Trump met, right?
Trump has reportedly come to the conclusion that the details of the alleged affair will not significantly damage his political support and that the issue will eventually pass.


The president did not think Daniels appeared credible, according to a source who spoke with the Post.

Over the weekend at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, Trump also questioned friends and guests about their thoughts on the Daniels controversy.

His friends and advisers reportedly warned him that he had little to gain from engaging with Daniels.
I wonder if he asked Melania what she thought.  He's never getting back in that bed, is he?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, March 26, 2018

In a nutshell

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The importance of Rick Gates

Politico has a somewhat lengthy article about Rick Gates and his importance to the Mueller team now that he's flipped.  Check it out.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The incompetence extends to the president's lawyer's lawyer

In case you missed it, Avenatti is Stormy Daniels' lawyer, and at one point, Cohen bragged that he would be winning a lawsuit against her that would allow him to take an extended vacation "on her dime."

Which does make it seem like he used the threat tactic first, and assumed it worked until stories started reappearing right before the election.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.