Sunday Reads: tRump’s Reign of Terror

 

Do you all remember this Time cover?

Trump: The Story Behind TIME’s Donald Trump ‘King Me’ Cover | Time

There is the link to the video and article back when this cover came out in June of 2018.

It seems that perhaps this cover was more of a foreshadowing of what was to come? I mean, every day tRump does something more horrible than the previous day….however, his latest blatant moves, pulling the security clearance of John Brennen…firing of Peter Strzok…the threats to remove other security clearances…prejudice potential jury pools…etc. I know that we say it over and over, but this is truly the behavior of a twisted despot.  And if I had drawn that picture above, not only would I have tRump wearing a crown, I would have him twisted and deformed…much like the painting of Dorian Gray. Showing the world all the true impressions of his disgusting nature. Syphilitic, greed and hate…just to name a few.

Even that image above is not horrendous enough…it needs the asshole mouth with vile putrid filth spewing out.

Check out these Twitter threads, see what you take away from them:

I would never have thought…I’d be posting a link to a John Dean twitter tweet!

Like this is surprising? None of these assholes will hold tRump accountable for his treasonous actions, you think that they are going to do an interview about confronting his racist invective?

The next two threads are long…

Stick with these threads….read them in full.

 

Here’s some other tweets to think about…

I don’t think it will matter at all….if “he said it.”

 

They had Bannon on MSNBC on Friday, what the fuck?

And then there is Maud….I mean Chuck Todd:

 

The Hoarse Whisperer was on fire this week, if you don’t follow…you need to:

Regarding the Manafort trial:

All the while, tRump is tweeting his shit about Manafort.

Now, I am thinking he is getting more death threats from the side that wants to see Manafort acquitted…but that is my own opinion.

Even God is getting in on the discussion:

About the tRump action on twitter this morning:

 

 

 

 

 

I am sticking to tweets this morning, in consideration of this shit:

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, we are fucked:

I will end it with a dumbass….

Enjoy your day…this is an open thread.

 

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Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump “Drunk on Power” — John Brennan

Blue Iris, Vian Risanto

Good Afternoon!!

It has been another disastrous week in Trumpland. The “president” seems to be losing what control he ever had. He spends his days watching TV, throwing tantrums on Twitter, and dreaming up ways to punish his many “enemies.” He’s Nixon on steroids, and the Republicans continue to refuse to do anything to check his corruption and abuses of power.

On Wednesday, Trump unilaterally revoked the security clearance of former CIA chief John Brennan, and despite condemnations by former members of the intelligence community, he plans to keep revoking the clearances of anyone who dares to criticize him or who may have been in some way involved with the Russia investigation.

The Washington Post: White House drafts more clearance cancellations demanded by Trump.

The White House has drafted documents revoking the security clearances of current and former officials whom President Trump has demanded be punished for criticizing him or playing a role in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to senior administration officials.

Trump wants to sign “most if not all” of them, said one senior White House official, who indicated that communications aides, including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Bill Shine, the newly named deputy chief of staff, have discussed the optimum times to release them as a distraction during unfavorable news cycles.

Cocktail dress, Vian Risanto

Yes, they admit these will be used to distract the public on bad news days for Trump!

Some presidential aides echoed concerns raised by outside critics that the threatened revocations smack of a Nixonian enemies list, with little or no substantive national security justification. Particular worry has been expressed inside the White House about Trump’s statement Friday that he intends “very quickly” to strip the clearance of current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations….

It was unclear what the argument would be for revoking Ohr’s clearance, since Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, while not specifying Ohr’s current job, has said he has had no involvement in the Mueller investigation, begun last year.

But Ohr knew Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who was hired in 2016 by Fusion GPS, then working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. Ohr’s wife also worked for Fusion GPS. According to news reports and congressional testimony, the two men discussed Trump before the election. Ohr later reported the conversation to the FBI.

Ohr is the only current official on the White House list of clearances Trump wants to lift. The others are former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; former CIA director Michael V. Hayden; former FBI director James B. Comey; Obama national security adviser Susan E. Rice; former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok; and former acting attorney general Sally Yates. Several of them have said they no longer have clearances.

It’s difficult to believe that Trump’s actions could not be seen as obstruction of justice and witness tampering, since many of those on the “enemies list” are potential witnesses in Robert Mueller’s investigation. Yesterday, The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake addressed the issue: How Trump’s security-clearance gambit could actually get him in deeper trouble with Mueller.

Green chair, Vian Risanto

I was on an MSNBC panel Thursday night with Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, who suggested Trump’s revocation of security clearances could be construed as retaliation against witnesses. “It’s a federal crime — §1513 if anyone wants to look it up — to retaliate against someone for providing truthful information to law enforcement,” he said. “So he’s getting closer and closer to really dangerous ground here.”

Here’s the text of Section 1513(e):

Whoever knowingly, with the intent to retaliate, takes any action harmful to any person, including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any Federal offense, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

Honig explained to me Friday that he didn’t necessarily think Trump’s revocation of Brennan’s security clearance would be a violation, given Brennan isn’t a major figure on the probe’s key events. But if he presses on and does it with others, Honig argued, it could.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Last night Rachel Maddow interviewed John Brennan. Talking Point Memo: Brennan On Revoked Clearance: ‘This Country Is More Important Than Mr. Trump.’

Former CIA Director John Brennan was defiant Friday night in response to President Donald Trump’s revocation of his security clearance, and to Trump’s threatening to revoke the clearances of several other former intelligence and national security officials who’ve become harsh critics of his.

Vian Risanto

“I think this is an egregious act that it flies in the face of traditional practice, as well as common sense, as well as national security,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I think that’s why there’s been such an outcry from many intelligence professionals.”

Brennan told Maddow that he is thinking about taking legal action.

“A number of lawyers have reached out to say that there is a very strong case here, not so much to reclaim [my clearance] but to prevent this from happening in the future,” Brennan told Maddow, asked if he was considering legal action against the administration.

Some groups, including the ACLU, have alleged that revoking Brennan’s clearance in retaliation for his criticism of Trump, as the White House said was the case, was a violation of the former CIA director’s First Amendment rights.

Brennan repeated his accusation that Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir was “nothing short of treasonous.”

And he said a Washington Post report that his clearance revocation had been timed “to divert attention from nonstop coverage of a critical book released by fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman” was “just another demonstration of [Trump’s] irresponsibility.”

“The fact that he’s using a security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn in his public relations strategy, I think, is just so reflective of somebody who, quite frankly — I don’t want to use this term, maybe — but he’s drunk on power.”

Three reactions to Trump’s latest power grab to check out:

A night out, Vian Risanto

Tim Weiner at The New York Times: Trump Is Not a King.

In times of crisis, the leaders of the military and intelligence communities try to put aside their differences, often many and sundry, and work together for the good of the country. That’s what’s happening today with a remarkable group of retired generals, admirals and spymasters who have signed up for the resistance, telling the president of the United States, in so many words, that he is not a king.

Thirteen former leaders of the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. have signed an open letter standing foursquare against President Trump, in favor of freedom of speech and, crucially, for the administration of justice. They have served presidents going back to Richard M. Nixon mostly without publicly criticizing the political conduct of a sitting commander in chief — until now.

They rebuked Mr. Trump for revoking the security clearance of John Brennan, the C.I.A. director under President Obama, in retaliation for his scalding condemnations and, ominously, for his role in “the rigged witch hunt” — the investigation into Russia’s attempt to fix the 2016 election, now in the hands of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. The president’s latest attempt to punish or silence everyone connected with the case, along with his fiercest critics in political life, will not be his last….

The president aims to rid the government and the airwaves of his real and imagined enemies, especially anyone connected with the Russia investigation. Somewhere Richard Nixon may be looking up and smiling. But aboveground, the special counsel is taking notes.

Lily, Vian Risanto

The list of the signatories to the open letter defending Mr. Brennan is striking for the length and breadth of their experience. I never expected to see William H. Webster — he’s 95 years old, served nine years as F. B.I. director under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, then four more as C.I.A. director under Reagan and President George H. W. Bush — sign a political petition like this. The same with Robert M. Gates, who entered the C.I.A. under President Lyndon Johnson, ran it under George H. W. Bush and served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. These are not the kind of men who march on Washington. These are men who were marched upon.

Read more at the NYT.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Trump Is Making the Department of Justice Into His Own Private Goon Squad.

One morning earlier this week during executive time, President Trump tweeted out his assessment of the Russia investigation. “The Rigged Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on as the ‘originators and founders’ of this scam continue to be fired and demoted for their corrupt and illegal activity,” he raged. “All credibility is gone from this terrible Hoax, and much more will be lost as it proceeds. No Collusion!”

Amid this torrent of lies, the president had identified one important truth. There has in fact been a series of firings and demotions of law-enforcement officials. The casualties include FBI director James Comey, deputy director Andrew McCabe, general counsel James Baker, and, most recently, agent Peter Strzok. Robert Mueller is probing the circumstances surrounding Trump’s firing of Comey for a possible obstruction-of-justice charge. But for Trump, obstruction of justice is not so much a discrete act as a way of life.

The slowly unfolding purge, one of the most vivid expressions of Trump’s governing ethos, has served several purposes for the president. First, it has removed from direct authority a number of figures Trump suspects would fail to provide him the personal loyalty he demanded from Comey and expects from all officials in the federal government. Second, it supplies evidence for Trump’s claim that he is being hounded by trumped-up charges — just look at all the crooked officials who have been fired! Third, it intimidates remaining officials with the threat of firing and public humiliation if they take any actions contrary to Trump’s interests. Simply carrying out the law now requires a measure of personal bravery.

Trump has driven home this last factor through a series of taunts directed at his vanquished foes. After McCabe enraged Trump by approving a flight home for Comey after his firing last May, the president told him to ask his wife (who had run for state legislature, unsuccessfully) how it felt to be a loser. This March, Trump fired McCabe and has since tweeted that Comey and McCabe are “clowns and losers.” The delight Trump takes in tormenting his victims, frequently calling attention to Strzok’s extramarital affair — as if Trump actually cared about fidelity! — underscores his determination to strip his targets of their dignity.

Click on the link to read the rest.

Bob Bauer at Lawfare: Richard Nixon, Donald Trump and the ‘Breach of Faith.’

Red couch, Vian Risanto

Journalist and presidential historian Theodore H. White thought of Richard Nixon’s downfall as the consequence of a “breach of faith.” Perhaps it was a “myth,” but an important one, that “is responsibility,” White wrote. But it was important nonetheless that Americans believe that this office, conferring extraordinary power, would “burn the dross from [the president’s] character; his duties would, by their very weight, make him a superior man, fit to sustain the burden of the law, wise and enduring enough to resist the clash of all selfish interests.”

A president who frustrates this expectation, failing to exhibit the transformative effects of oath and office, will have broken faith with the American public. And yet, White believed that Nixon’s presidency had been an aberration. “[M]any stupid, hypocritical and limited men had reached that office,” he wrote. “But all, when publicly summoned to give witness, chose to honor the legends” of what the office required of a president’s behavior in office.

White’s understanding of what constitutes a “breach of faith” is well worth recalling in considering the presidency of Donald Trump. As White understood it, the term encompassed more than illegal conduct or participation in its cover-up. It was a quality of leadership—or more to the point, the absence of critical qualities—that defined a president’s “betrayal” of his office. What elevated Nixon’s misdeeds to a fatal constitutional flaw, forcing him to surrender his presidency, was the breaking of faith with the American people. Nixon brushed the legal and ethical limits on pursuing his own political and personal welfare. He held grudges and was vindictive; he looked to destroy his enemies rather than simply prevailing over them in hard, clean fights. He lied repeatedly to spare himself the costs of truth-telling.

All of this may be said of Donald Trump, but for a key difference: Nixon was anxious to conceal much of this behavior from public view.

Much has been said and written about Trump’s leadership style: the chronic resort to false claims; the incessant tweeting of taunts and personal attacks on his adversaries; the open undermining of members of his own administration; the abandonment of norms; the refusal to credit, respect or support the impartial administration of justice where his personal or political interests are stake; and the use of office to promote his personal business enterprises. By now, almost two years into his administration, it is clear that this is who he is.

Like Nixon, Trump seems to believe that his behavior is justified by the extraordinary and ruthless opposition of an “establishment”—comprised mainly of the media, the opposition party, and intellectuals—to his election and his politics.

Please go read the rest at Lawfare.

That’s all I have for you today. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Friday Reads: Justice Interrupted and a Queen of all Souls

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

There just doesn’t appear to be words to describe the clusterfuck we’re living through under one party rule right now.  I’m going to start with the Kavanaugh SCOTUS appointment which is being railroaded through the Senate even though it’s clear that the majority of American people oppose him and he likely lied to Congress on his last appearance which is a felony.

Pat Leahy, the Democratric Senator from Vermont, believes strongly that Kavanaugh lied to him about the nature of his involvement in War Crimes and Torture during the Bush Administration.  Grassley and McConnell seem intent to stop the committee from seeing any evidence of that.  Leahy wrote a letter to Grassley today and released it to the public.

We have repeatedly expressed our serious concerns about the unprecedented lack of transparency and partisan process that is being used to hide Brett Kavanaugh’s record from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate as a whole, and the American people.  Although Judge Kavanaugh amassed a substantial record during his five years in the Bush White House, to date, less than 3% of his record has been made available to the Committee, and 98.4% of his record is being withheld from the full Senate and the public.  By comparison, for Elena Kagan’s nomination, 99% of her White House records were made available to Congress and the public.

We have stated all along that the unprecedented, partisan process being used for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is a disservice to the Senate and to the American people.  Now, we are seeing firsthand the problems that result from attempts to hide Judge Kavanaugh’s record.  In particular, from the limited set of documents available, we have already seen records that call into serious question whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful about his involvement in the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 terrorism policies when he testified before this Committee during his 2006 nomination hearing.

As you know, in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh told the Committee under oath that he was “not aware of any issues” regarding “the legal justifications or the policies relating to the treatment of detainees”;[1] was “not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants”[2]; had nothing to do with issues related to rendition;[3] and was unaware of, and saw no documents related to, the warrantless wiretapping program conducted without congressional authorization.[4]

However, at least two documents that are publicly available on the Bush Library website from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as Staff Secretary suggest that he was involved in issues related to torture and rendition after 9/11.  In one, just days after the existence of the Office of Legal Counsel “torture memos” was publicly revealed, then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harriet Miers forwarded to Judge Kavanaugh a set of talking points addressing the memos and U.S. torture policy.[5]  The forwarded email makes clear that then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had personally asked for Judge Kavanaugh’s review.  Similarly, another email shows that Judge Kavanaugh was included on an email chain circulating talking points on rendition and interrogation.[6]  These emails and talking points demonstrate why we need access to Judge Kavanaugh’s full record as Staff Secretary.

In addition, documents that have been produced to the Committee as part of the partisan process that you have brokered with Bill Burck further undercut Judge Kavanaugh’s blanket assertions that he had no involvement in or knowledge of post-9/11 terrorism policies.  These documents are currently being withheld from the public at your insistence, but they shed additional light on Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement in these matters and are needed to question him in a public hearing.

After all, Judge Kavanaugh was an Associate White House Counsel on 9/11.  Over the next several months and years, the White House sought legal opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel and advised the President on the legality of several controversial programs.  For example, just six days after the 9/11 attack, Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo drafted a memorandum evaluating the legality of a program that would allow warrantless wiretapping of American’s e-mails and phone calls.[7]  Mr. Yoo, described in a public Inspector Generals’ report as “‘very well connected’ with officials in the White House,” addressed his memo to Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, Judge Kavanaugh’s likely supervisor at the time.  It is important for the public and full Senate to understand whether Judge Kavanaugh was involved in their communications, despite having told the Committee in 2006 that he had not seen or heard anything about the President’s warrantless wiretapping program until December 2005.[8]

Whether Judge Kavanaugh misled this Committee in 2006 and his involvement in these White House policies are critically important to our consideration of his fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.  These are serious questions that could easily be addressed if we were given access to his records.  As it stands, however, you have refused to join our request for Judge Kavanaugh’s Staff Secretary records and have sought to keep his White House Counsel documents secret as well.

We firmly believe that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination cannot be considered unless these documents are available, including to the public and the Senate as a whole. We therefore urge you to join our request for Judge Kavanaugh’s Staff Secretary records and to publicly release documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the White House in the same manner as was done for all previous Supreme Court nominees.  The truth should not be hidden from the Senate or the American people.

Kavanaugh has the worst level of support since the Bork debacle.   Women especially do not want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

new poll from CNN shows that Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is the least popular since Robert Bork’s nomination by Ronald Reagan. The overall percentage of polled Americans who would like to see Kavanaugh confirmed is a whopping 37 percent. Bork’s came in a little lower, at 31 percent.

The most interesting data from this poll is how many women across the ideological spectrum oppose the nomination. While 74 percent of Republicans say he should be confirmed, only 28 percent of women agree. This is even true among Democrats. A mere 6 percent of Democratic women say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, compared to 22 percent of Democratic men. Women are also more likely to view Kavanaugh’s positions as extreme. Only 35 percent of women consider his views mainstream, compared to 50 percent of men. Gee, it’s almost like if you fail to be directly impacted by policies like legal abortion, you’re less likely to care about them.

aretha_franklinnewprphoto2june2014_t580 (1)Igor Bobic–writing for HuffPo–states the clearly partisan process rolling its way over this important appointment.  It is led by the same man that denied an appointment to Barrack Obama, Mitch McConnell.

The National Archives and Records Administration, which has historically been tasked with producing documents relating to Supreme Court nominees, distanced itself from the group of George W. Bush lawyers currently working on releasing Kavanaugh documents from his time in the Bush administration. The archival staff is conducting its own review of the nominee’s record, as requested by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), but they will not be able to fully comply until late October due to the sheer number of documents involved.

The nonpartisan agency said in a Wednesday statement that the Republican review of some of Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House is “completely apart” from the one it is working on, adding that the parallel review is “something that has never happened before.”

“This effort by former President Bush does not represent the National Archives or the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The Senate Judiciary Committee is publicly releasing some of these documents on its website, which also do not represent the National Archives,” the statement read, noting that former presidents have the right to access and release records of their administration.

Part of the reason why there has been so much partisan wrangling over Kavanaugh’s record is the fact that there has never been a Supreme Court nominee with such an extensive paper trail. As someone who spent five years working as a top aide in the White House, he’s got far more documents than Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch or President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan ― a sum that is said to total several million. It’s why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to nudge Trump into nominating other candidates in the first place, fearing it could pose difficulties for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

That exact scenario is playing out currently in the Senate, where Democrats are hammering Republicans for not being willing to produce his full record and pressing forward with the confirmation hearing before the National Archives is able to conduct its own review. On Thursday, Democrats announced they are prepared to sue the National Archives if the Freedom of Information Act request they filed seeking Kavanaugh’s documents isn’t honored.

“I think they realize if the American people knew just how Justice Kavanaugh felt before he became a judge, they might not want him to be there,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech on Thursday.

l-Aretha-FranklinRachel Maddow shared a rediscovered tape of Kavanaugh’s view that overturning established laws may be necessary to remove anything not clearly delineated in the Constitution directly.

Rachel Maddow shares a new tape of Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh discussing Antonin Scalia’s opposition to marriage equality and abortion rights, characterizing them as “new rights” not guaranteed by the Constitution.

National Portrait Gallery's American Portrait Gala, Washington, DC, America - 15 Nov 2015Democrats must seriously fight this nomination (via WBUR).

The facts here are pretty simple: Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would shape the court for a generation. Long after our reality TV POTUS is gone, his “legacy” would live on in the form of a pro-corporate, anti-union judiciary in which judges are but an extension of the billionaire donor class that underwrites the modern GOP.

Media companies are, these days, too focused on staging pundit brawls about profane tweets to document the stakes of a Kavanaugh confirmation.

For this reason, Democrats need to take immediate action, before their Republican colleagues once again outmaneuver them. That means seizing control of the narrative by promising the media what it lusts after: a fight.

Every single Democrat in Congress should gather on the steps of the Supreme Court and explain to the American people what’s going on here:

That the GOP — by means of naked intransigence — already has stolen one seat on the high court and won’t get another.

That Kavanaugh is an illegitimate pick, nominated by a president who lost his election by three million votes and who is currently under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to subvert our democracy.

That Kavanaugh himself would serve not as an impartial jurist, but as a hyper-partisan legal bodyguard for a demagogue president so venal and mistrusted that he has resorted to forcing his employees to sign illegal non-disclosure agreements.

That Kavanaugh would twist the Constitution into knots seeking to protect the president from being questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We know this for a fact because Kavanaugh — who once worked as one of Kenneth Starr’s legal attack dogs — has since had a change of heart, and wrote in 2009 that Clinton should never have been investigated. Why? Because indicting a sitting president “would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.”

That, even more galling, we know that Kavanaugh spoke out against the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to release the Watergate tapes. In other words, he believesthat the president is above the rule of law.

That Kavanaugh flat-out lied to Congress when he was initially confirmed to be a federal judge, which is a crime. And did so in relation to this nation’s efforts to torture human beings.

 

Meanwhile, every one has to endure this kind of crap coming from Franklin Graham who really should be sent to an island to live by himself.  “Franklin Graham compares Chelsea Clinton’s views on abortion with Hitler’s views on ‘killing the Jews'” from The Hill.

Evangelist leader and vocal Trump supporter Franklin Graham on Thursday went after Chelsea Clinton for saying women’s access to abortion helped boost the economy, saying that Hitler probably claimed that “killing the Jews” would be good for the German economy.

Graham took to Twitter to share Clinton’s comments from “Rise Up for Roe” — a pro-abortion event advocating against the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh — at its tour stop in New York.

@ChelseaClinton, daughter of former President @BillClinton & @HillaryClinton, claims that legalizing abortion added trillions of dollars to the economy,” Graham tweeted alongside a link to a Breitbart News article about Clinton’s remarks. “What a lie. Hitler probably also claimed that killing the Jews would be good for their economy.”

Clinton said earlier this week that there was a connection between Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, and the economy.

“It is not a disconnected fact … that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added $3.5 trillion to our economy,” Clinton said at the event. “The net, new entrance of women — that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”

The Hill has reached out to the Clinton Foundation, of which Clinton is a board member, for clarification on the source of the statistic she cited.

Clinton defended her comments on Tuesday, tweeting that her words have been misrepresented. Clinton pointed to a recent study she led, which found a connection between women’s access to abortion and socioeconomic consequences.

“Reproductive rights have always been economic rights,” Clinton tweeted. “A recent study found denying women — often already mothers — a wanted abortion results in years of less employment & more family poverty.”

Portrait Of Aretha FranklinThey religious wrongs just cannot leave the Clinton Family alone.

Meanwhile, you’ll notice that I’m providing my tribute to the Queen of Soul.  Here’s one from  Bitter Southerner Patterson Hood that I can feel.

I’m not saying goodbye to Aretha Franklin. I’m sure I never will in my lifetime. Her music will remain with me as a fixture in our home for as long as I live, and it’s a tradition that my own kids will no doubt carry forward after I’m gone. I’m glad she is no longer suffering. She no doubt lived a full life full of ecstatic moments and majesty. She has left behind a legacy of work that is written into the bedrock of the American art form that she defined and transcended. There was no greater singer in the 20th century, and those Atlantic recordings are stouter monuments to what’s great about our country than anything that could ever be carved into stone. Her songs are living, breathing monuments to the soul of man and woman and race and history and culture. Of the American ideal. The human experience.

I won’t say goodbye, but I will say thank you. Thank you, Aretha Franklin, for turning the pains, sufferings, and transcendent joys of the human experience into an art form that can be blasted from the tiniest transistor radios or the finest McIntosh amplified stereos. They are sounds of our hearts and souls on fire.

 

And of course, the Queen of Soul gets a fitting NYT obit.

Ms. Franklin’s airborne, constantly improvisatory vocals had their roots in gospel. It was the music she grew up on in the Baptist churches where her father, the Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, known as C. L., preached. She began singing in the choir of her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, and soon became a star soloist.

Gospel shaped her quivering swoops, her pointed rasps, her galvanizing buildups and her percussive exhortations; it also shaped her piano playing and the call-and-response vocal arrangements she shared with her backup singers. Through her career in pop, soul and R&B, Ms. Franklin periodically recharged herself with gospel albums: “Amazing Grace” in 1972 and “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,” recorded at the New Bethel church, in 1987.

But gospel was only part of her vocabulary. The playfulness and harmonic sophistication of jazz, the ache and sensuality of the blues, the vehemence of rock and, later, the sustained emotionality of opera were all hers to command.

Ms. Franklin did not read music, but she was a consummate American singer, connecting everywhere. In an interview with The New York Times in 2007, she said her father had told her that she “would sing for kings and queens.”

“Fortunately I’ve had the good fortune to do so,” she added. “And presidents.”

So, that’s enough for me today.  I’m going to do some stuff and listen to Aretha sing out about the peaks and depths of the human condition as I have since being a kid. And, I’ll sing along, albeit quite badly.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Trump Publicly Admits Guilt Once Again

Among Lupine, Jeffrey T. Larson

Good Morning!!

Trump just can’t stop confessing his guilt. Yesterday, Trump stripped away John Brennan’s security clearance, claiming it was because of Brennan’s “erratic behavior” and “wild outbursts on the internet and television.” Then he proceeded to tell the Wall Street Journal that he did it because of the Russia investigation.

President Trump drew a direct connection between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Russia has denied interfering.

Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Democratic administration of former President Obama and one of those who presented evidence to Mr. Trump shortly before his inauguration that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “And these people led it!”

He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Trump has quite an enemies list now, and everyone on it is involved in some way with the investigation.

Reading Girl. Ármin Glatter (Hungarian, 1861-1916). Oil on canvas.

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was also reviewing the clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, and former National Security Agency and CIA chief Michael Hayden.

“I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”

Most of the individuals left government service months or years ago under varied circumstances, including being fired by the president and his aides. Some, including Mr. Comey, have said they no longer have or use their clearances.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: Trump blurts out another Lester Holt moment.

You could be forgiven for having flashbacks to Trump’s interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in the aftermath of his firing last year of James B. Comey as FBI director. Then, as now, the White House offered a series of motivations for the crackdown on a person who was a liability in the Russia probe. Then, as now, it seemed clear what the actual motivation was. And then, as now, Trump appeared to go out and just admit the actual motivation….

In the case of the Holt interview, Trump never actually directly said that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation; instead, he merely said that Russia was on his mind when he did it. “And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” Trump said back in May 2017.

In this case, Trump refers directly to the role of Brennan and others in leading the investigation, and then says, “So I think it’s something that had to be done” — suggesting that this was an action taken in direct response to their participation in the probe. He is saying he is punishing people who were involved in that, which at the very least would seem to create a chilling effect for other would-be critics.

John Brennan responded in an op-ed in today’s New York Times:

The artist’s wife reading – Fyffe Christie

Having worked closely with the F.B.I. over many years on counterintelligence investigations, I was well aware of Russia’s ability to work surreptitiously within the United States, cultivating relationships with individuals who wield actual or potential power. Like Mr. Bortnikov, these Russian operatives and agents are well trained in the art of deception. They troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters. Too often, those puppets are found.

In my many conversations with James Comey, the F.B.I. director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands. We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. We also publicly assessed that Mr. Putin’s intelligence services were following his orders. Director Comey and I, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, pledged that our agencies would share, as appropriate, whatever information was collected, especially considering the proven ability of Russian intelligence services to suborn United States citizens.

The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt (1854-1905)

Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do — and what they actually did — to win the election. While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

Today hundreds of newspapers published editorials condemning Trumps war on press freedom. CNN has publish a list of many of of these papers with links to their editorials. The list is broken down by state, so you can find your own newspaper. I’d love to read the one in my hometown newspaper The Boston Globe, but they only allow me to read two free articles per month and I can’t afford to subscribe. The free press isn’t accessible to all readers!

The jury in the Paul Manafort trial began deliberations this morning. CBS News reports:

After over an hour and a half of instructions from Judge T.S. Ellis, a jury, comprised of 6 men and 6 women, now begin deliberations on Thursday in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. It’s unclear how long it will take for them to consider and vote on the 18 charges against Manafort. CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that at a minimum, it will take the jury a few hours just to sort through the procedural paperwork and weigh their vote.

The government has recommended to the court anywhere between 8 to 10 years in prison for falsifying tax returns, bank fraud conspiracy and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial records. The maximum sentence for the 18 counts, however, is 305 years.

Emmanuel Garant

During Wednesday’s closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors Manafort lied to keep himself flush with cash for his luxurious lifestyle and lied some more to procure millions in bank loans when his income dropped off. In his defense, Manafort’s attorneys told jurors to question the entirety of the prosecution’s case as they sought to tarnish the credibility of Manafort’s longtime protege — and government witness — Rick Gates….

In the closing arguments, prosecutor Greg Andres said the government’s case boils down to “Mr. Manafort and his lies.”

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies,” Andres said as he made his final argument that the jury should find Manafort guilty of 18 felony counts.

Attorneys for Manafort, who is accused of tax evasion and bank fraud, spoke next, arguing against his guilt by saying he left the particulars of his finances to other people, including Gates.

Defense attorney Richard Westling noted that Manafort employed a team of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers, a fact he said showed his client wasn’t trying to hide anything. Westling also painted the prosecutions’ case as consisting of cherry-picked evidence that doesn’t show jurors the full picture.

The New York Times has a list of questions the jury will have to consider, including “Rick Gates’s credibility,” “the judge’s behavior,” “Manafort’s lifestyle.” Read all the details at the link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


Wednesday Reads: 37% of Dumbfvcks is still a lot of Dumbfvcks!

 

Last night on the Chris Hayes show… the two guest were talking about the 36-38 percent of polls that continuously believe every fucking word tRump says, whatever tRump says…

Poll: Most think Trump lying about Russia probe

The president is relentlessly attacking Robert Mueller and what he keeps calling the “witch hunt.” A new poll finds it isn’t working.

That is the link to the video from the show….it is only 5 minutes if you didn’t see it last night.

 

How many times do we have to kick this dead horse?

37%!!!!!!

It is always the same.

I see people on The Last Word, discussing how tapes of tRump saying the N-word will be very bad for tRump:

We all know that 37% won’t be upset about tRump’s use of the N-word…hell, it will only delight his followers.

 

 

 

I think it is painfully clear….nothing tRump does…will get him what he truly deserves. Impeachment and prison.

 

It is all super bullshit.

 

Now the cartoons:

08/15 Mike Luckovich: Sheet yes!

Yes, exactly!

08/09/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 08/14/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

Nick Anderson cartoon: 08/11/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

 

Melania’s Parents: 08/14/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Melania's Parents

SPACE FARCE: 08/13/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SPACE FARCE

Charlottesville 1: 08/11/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Charlottesville 1

Ingraham Angle: 08/10/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Ingraham Angle

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

Doug Jones Kavanaugh Decision: 08/10/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Doug Jones Kavanaugh Decision

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

08/07/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

 

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

08/13/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

08/14/2018 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Omarosa: 08/14/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Omarosa

California fires: 08/13/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - California fires

Enriching his family: 08/10/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Enriching his family

Chris Collins arrested: 08/09/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Chris Collins arrested

08/11/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley -

08/11/2018 Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On that note, this is an open thread….


Tuesday Reads: The Tabloid “President”

Henri Matisse, Sleeping cat

Good Afternoon!!

With each passing day, our country sinks deeper into the muck and mire of Trumpism. This evil man was foisted on us by a minority of voters and by a media that focused on preventing an experienced and accomplished woman from becoming president. The institutions we hoped would protect us are mostly failing to do so. It’s incredibly depressing, and I have to admit, I’m getting beaten down by it. It feels like Trump is winning and democracy is losing.

Trump’s corruption is spreading throughout the government. As of yesterday, he has managed to purge all of his political enemies from the FBI. Bradley P. Moss at Politico:

The announcement Monday morning that former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok had been fired likely brings to a conclusion the personnel debate within the bureau regarding the behaviors of certain high-profile officials during the 2016 campaign cycle. Agent Strzok—a counterintelligence expert with particular expertise on Russia—played a significant role not only in parts of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server but also—in his role as deputy assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division—in the initiation of the still-ongoing probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. He also committed the serious political sin of exchanging private text messages (at least some on a government phone) with Lisa Page, an FBI attorney with whom he was having an affair, in which the two officials expressed their severe distaste for President Trump personally (as well as other candidates). Like former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe before him, Agent Strzok was terminated in the midst of a highly politicized environment in which the president of the United States has repeatedly attacked FBI officials by name and denounced the probe of his campaign as a “witch hunt.”

Strzok’s firing is problematic, and I assume he will file a lawsuit over it.

Henri Matisse, Goldfish

Just like in any other FBI disciplinary proceeding, Strzok was initially afforded the right to appeal the proposed termination of his employment to Candace M. Will, the head of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility. I have appeared before Will several times on behalf of FBI clients and I can state from personal experience that she is well-credentialed and compassionate, but ultimately very strict. She is a firm believer in the notion that the FBI has to hold itself to the highest ethical and moral standards and that is often reflected in her determinations. In 11 years of practice, I cannot think of a single time I have ever managed to persuade Will to reverse a proposed termination of an FBI official’s employment.

Nonetheless, according to a statement from Strzok’s attorney, Will chose not to uphold the proposed termination of Strzok’s employment. Instead, she concluded that it was appropriate to instead demote Strzok and suspend him for 60 days. She apparently also concluded that Strzok would be afforded what is known as a “last chance agreement,” which is effectively a written understanding between the agency and the employee that even the slightest instance of misconduct going forward can and will likely result in immediate termination. That Will reached this conclusion is very surprising and, in my professional opinion, speaks to just how thin the case for firing Strzok likely was.

But Deputy FBI Director David Bodich chose to intervene and reverse Will’s decision.

That Deputy Director Bowdich chose to overrule Will is what takes this matter so far outside the ordinary practice of the FBI disciplinary process. I have never seen senior FBI leadership unilaterally and directly intervene in such a manner, whether in my client’s favor or otherwise. If Strzok had not been satisfied with Will’s determination, appealing to Deputy Director Bowdich would not even have been a formal option. His final stage of administrative appeal would have been before the Disciplinary Review Board, which is comprised of three senior FBI officials but to my knowledge does not typically (if ever) include the deputy director.

Obviously this was done to pacify Trump. He has successfully intervened in an investigation of his own corrupt behavior.

Henri Matisse, Bouquet con dalie e libro bianco, 1923

And Trump’s behavior is getting worse. This morning he called a black woman a “dog.” Here’s what he wrote on Twitter:

“When you give a crazed lying lowlife a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Kali Joy Gray at True Blue Media:

And why is the former reality TV star whom he has repeatedly praised now a “dog”? Because she has said that he is unhinged, which he clearly is and which no one needed her to tell us. We can see it for ourselves every day that Trump takes to his Twitter during his “executive time.”

And what particular detail has Trump and his White House so upset he is obsessing about his former aide for the second day in a row, instead of doing his job and talking about, say, the 1,427 Americans who died in Puerto Rico and whose deaths he is plainly ignoring?

The long-rumored existence of a tape in which Trump says the “N-word.” It’s a rumor that predates the latest Omarosa bombshell interviews, but apparently, it particularly bothers Trump that she is saying it too.

After all, as he admitted Monday, the whole reason he hired her in the first place and wanted to keep her around the White House is because she said “GREAT things” about him. And as the only black adviser in his painfully white (supremacist) inner circle, he especially appreciated having an African American around to praise him.

Trump destroys everyone who makes the mistake of getting involved with him. After working for Trump, John Kelly’s reputation is now permanently blackened.

The Washington Post: Corruption wafts into the Situation Room. Why on earth did Kelly use the White House situation room to fire Omarosa? And why was she permitted to take her personal cell phone with her?

In a familiar Washington syndrome that the Trump administration has taken to new heights, we are rushing past the obvious. There is no reason to believe that the Kelly-Manigault Newman discussion contained any classified information and therefore deserved the extreme security precautions taxpayers fund for the Situation Room.

Henri Matisse, Still life with apples on a pink tablecloth

There is no indication of classified matters on the illicitly recorded tape that Manigault Newman brazenly played Sunday on “Meet the Press” to publicize her new tell-some memoir, “Unhinged,” where she reportedly portrays the president as a narcissistic bigot and charlatan losing control of his mental faculties (thereby proving the adage that even blind squirrels can find acorns)….

Begin with the obvious fact that she pulled off the taping in the Situation Room when Kelly clearly expected the venue to prevent that result. His failure speaks volumes about the effectiveness of Trump’s chief of staff and of this White House.

Kelly came to the White House as a Marine commander deeply respected by his troops, whose lives frequently depend on the judgments they make about people. To hear Kelly (on a tape that the White House has confirmed is authentic) try to cajole and bully a woman into silence is heartbreaking for those of us who respect the Marine Corps — and its leaders. (Full disclosure: My father was a Marine in World War II.)

It is not classified information that is at risk in Kelly’s threats that Manigault Newman’s “reputation” may suffer if her departure from the White House isn’t “friendly.” There is no indication in anything Kelly said then or that the White House has said since that Manigault Newman had access to classified information, or that defense information would have been threatened in any way had this conversation been held elsewhere. Kelly used the Situation Room to isolate and intimidate a troublemaker and loudmouth whom Trump had created in his own image and then placed in the upper ranks of his White House staff.

There’s more well-deserved Kelly bashing at the link.

Henri Matisse, Still life with oranges

I can’t resist sharing a couple more Omarosa stories. I’m glad the media is publishing these excerpts so I don’t have to read her book.

The New York Daily News: President Trump called Donald Jr. ‘a f–kup’ after he released emails about controversial meet with Russian lawyer, book says.

President Trump blasted his firstborn son as a “f–kup” after learning he had released emails about a controversial Trump Tower meeting attended by a Kremlin-connected lawyer who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to Omarosa Manigault Newman’s forthcoming book.

Manigault Newman, who was unceremoniously fired from the White House last December, says the President erupted in anger after she met with him in July 2017 and told him she was “sorry to hear” Donald Trump Jr. had posted screen grabs on Twitter of his email exchanges with British publicist Rob Goldstone.

“He is such a f–kup,” Trump said of his son, according to Manigault Newman’s tell-all book, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News. “He screwed up again, but this time, he’s screwing us all, big-time!”

Newsweek: Melania Can’t Wait to Divorce Trump and Punishes Him with her Fashion Choices, Omarosa claims.

First lady Melania Trump is eager for her husband, President Donald Trump, to leave office so that she can divorce him, and until then, deliberately chooses to “punish” the president with certain fashion choices, according to former White House aide to the president Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Manigault Newman made the claim in her new book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, a damning tome that accuses the president of using racial slurs and having impaired mental acuity, among other salacious claims.

Henri Matisse, Cat with red fish

“In my opinion, Melania is counting every minute until he is out of office and she can divorce him,” Manigault Newman wrote….

Manigault Newman also suggested that the first lady had weaponized her style choices. She pointed to the “Gucci ‘pussy bow’ pink blouse” the first lady wore to one of the presidential debates in 2016 after an infamous Access Hollywood tape came out in which the president bragged about sexually assaulting women. She also cited the “I Really Don’t Really Care. Do U?” jacket the first lady donned during her trip to a Texas border facility in June after the administration had faced blowback for its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

“Taken as a whole, all of her style rebellions have served the same purpose,” Manigault Newman wrote, “and not only misdirection and distraction—strategies her husband knows all too well. I believe Melania uses style to punish her husband.”

This is what we’ve come to. We have a tabloid “president” who is wallowing in crime and corruption without the slightest interest in living up to his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

What stories are you following today?


Monday Reads: The Wheels of Justice Turn very Slowly

Rediscovered painting by Raphael, circa 1520

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m focusing on the last standing functional branch of our Democracy today. I’ve noticed that some of the court cases recently have shown us that a few of our institutions are still working despite attempts to take them down.  I also cover a bit of that because, as you know, “these are the times that try men’s souls”.

The Special Counsel’s Appointment and Authority has been upheld by one of the first Trump Court Appointee’s this morning. This is significant as Mueller’s team takes aim at Roger Stone who dallied with Guccifer 2.0 and may be one of the first of the campaign’s inner circle to be directly indicted for playing footsy with the Russians. This is via CNN:

A federal district judge who was appointed by President Donald Trump has upheld Robert Mueller’s appointment and constitutional authority in the special counsel’s case against Russian social media propagandists.

Judge Dabney Friedrich, who serves at the trial-court level in DC federal court, said Concord Management and Consulting could not have its case tossed on constitutional grounds. The Russian company accused of backing a social media effort to sway voters against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed Mueller didn’t have power to bring the case because he was not appointment by the President and confirmed by Congress. Mueller was appointed under the authority of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has broad power as the acting head of the Justice Department for the 2016 election probe.

“The appointment does not violate core separation-of-powers principles. Nor has the Special Counsel exceeded his authority under the appointment order by investigating and prosecuting Concord,” Friedrich wrote in an opinion published Monday morning. She was one of the first judges Trump placed into a federal court position.

Friedrich cited opinions by three other federal judges — Amy Berman Jackson, who oversees Paul Manafort’s criminal foreign lobbying case; T.S. Ellis, who oversees Manafort’s financial fraud case; and DC District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell — to back up her decision.
All three judges also denied requests to invalidate Mueller’s authority, with Howell writing as recently as late July that a witness subpoenaed to turn over documents and to testify before the grand jury about Roger Stone would have to. That witness, Andrew Miller, has been held in contempt of the court and now may appeal.

 

Bronze statue of Astraea

Both Manafort and Stone and key associates have tried to dart and dodge aspects of their indictments.  So far, they’ve failed.

The prosecution is wrapping up its tax- and bank-fraud case against Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.

After the blistering pace set by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, the trial ground to a sudden halt on Friday for an unexplained reason. The judge and lawyers spent half the day huddled behind closed doors, with the trial not resuming until mid-afternoon.

The star of the trial was Gates, who was depicted by the defense as an unprincipled crook who ripped off Manafort and maybe the Trump campaign, and cheated on his wife to boot. But he also described to prosecutors how he helped Manafort hide millions of dollars that he earned from political consulting work in Ukraine in offshore accounts, and helped forge documents that made it easier for Manafort to defraud banks.

The jury heard from plenty of financial experts who backed up those claims. The professionals who helped Manafort, including his bookkeeper and tax accountant, said Manafort was the one in charge and insisted on giving final approval. The accountant said she was aware that Manafort’s tax returns contained false information. Bankers testified they wouldn’t have approved Manafort’s loan requests had they received the correct information from him about his income and debts.

Stephen Calk, chief executive officer of Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, expedited approval of two loans for Manafort totaling $16 million as he pushed Manafort for help landing a job with the Trump administration soon after the 2016 election, a former bank employee testified.

Manafort’s defense gets a chance to put its case before the jury this week, although it’s not required to do so. It’s unclear whether Manafort plans to testify or when jurors will begin deliberating.

Lady Justice Streets of Dublin.  Jenny Rainbow (artist)

However, the White House continues to skirt laws and ethics guidelines.  This one is a whopper of an issue.  The Daily Beast has this lede: ‘White House: It’s in ‘Public Interest’ for Staff to Skirt Ethics Rules to Meet With Fox News’ written by Lachlan Markay. No wonder they want to change the way administrative judges are appointed.

It is “in the public interest” for a the White House’s top communicator to be excused from federal ethics laws so he can meet with Fox News, according to President Donald Trump’s top lawyer.

Bill Shine, Trump’s newly minted communications director, and Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economist, who worked at CNBC before his White House post, have both been excused from provisions of the law, which seeks to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers.

“The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” wrote White House counsel Don McGahn in a July 13 memo granting an ethics waivers to Shine, a former Fox executive. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”

Kudlow, a former CNBC host, received a similar waiver allowing him to communicate with former colleagues.

Including Shine and Kudlow, the White House has granted a total of 20 waivers to provisions of various federal ethics laws and the ethics pledge that President Trump instituted by executive order the week he took office. Federal agencies have granted many more such waivers.

Very Old White Guy from Iowa Grassley has decided September 4th is the day to trot out the Kavanaugh confirmation.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings will start on Sept. 4 and last between three and four days, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced on Friday.

That scheduling tees up the GOP to meet its goal of getting President Donald Trump’s pick seated on the high court by the time its term begins in early October, barring unforeseen obstacles or a breakthrough by Democrats who are pushing to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The Supreme Court battle so far has focused on documents related to Kavanaugh’s five years in the George W. Bush White House. Democrats have excoriated the GOP for declining to seek records from the nominee’s time as Bush’s staff secretary and condemned the Republican decision to rely on a Bush-driven review process for the early round of vetting, while the majority party hails the vast scope of documents that are set for release.

Grassley said earlier this month that he anticipates being able to complete Kavanaugh’s consideration by the Judiciary panel within about two weeks after the close of the confirmation hearings, which will feature questioning of the nominee beginning on Sept. 5. After the Judiciary panel clears Kavanaugh, Grassley added, the nomination is expected to reach the Senate floor within days.

“At this current pace, we have plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives,” Grassley said in a Friday statement setting the hearing dates. “It’s time for the American people to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh at his public hearing.”

The FBI has overridden its normal process of employee discipline to fire Agent Peter Strzok who basically was exercising his first amendment rights to criticize D’oh Hair Furor.  I’m wondering how long it will take to fire up a law suit on this one. This is from Matt Zapotosky at WAPO.

The FBI has fired agent Peter Strzok, who helped lead the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election until officials discovered he had been sending anti-Trump texts.

Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday — even though the director of the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s repeated assurances that Strzok would be afforded the normal disciplinary process.

“This isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” Goelman said, adding in a statement, “This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans.”

The FBI declined to comment.

The termination marks a remarkable downfall for Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the bureau who investigated Russian spies, defense officials accused of selling secrets to China and myriad other important cases. In the twilight of his career, Strzok was integral to two of the bureau’s most high-profile investigations: the Russia case; and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Cruella D’Vos “Just Pulled a Full Marie Antoinette And Retracted Fraud Rules Against For-Profit Colleges.” This is from Elura Nanos writing for Law & Crime.

Welp, now we’ve at least closed the circle on Betsy DeVos and for-profit colleges. She’s gone from evading questions about whether she would regulate these fraud machines to disbanding the team charged with investigating them. Now, she flat out withdrew the gainful employment rule, signaling to all that under her watchful eye, the DeVrys, the Trump Universities, and the Corinthian Colleges are free to flourish – while unwitting students and their families can simply eat cake.

The “gainful employment rule,” you may remember, is the one adopted in 2016 under the Obamaadministration, after several cash-cow diploma mills found themselves defending fraud lawsuits brought by swindled students. The rule prohibited these businesses from using deceptive practices to entice customers to plunk down thousands in student loan money when the corresponding “degree” wasn’t worth the expensive paper on which it was printed. Or in other words, exactly what Trump University was accused of doing. It was also the rule Senator Elizabeth Warren skeweredDeVos on at DeVos’ confirmation hearing.

Well, as they say “No justice, No Peace”.

This is pretty outrageous.

The Clearwater man who shot and killed a father of three outside a convenience store in a parking dispute last month — setting off a stand your ground debate that has swept Florida and the nation — has a history of road rage.

Since 2012, according to records and interviews, 47-year-old Michael Drejka has been the accused aggressor in four incidents. Investigators documented three cases in police reports.

The other was not shared with authorities at the time but involved the same handicap-reserved parking spot outside the Circle A Food Store near Clearwater and another shooting threat.

Two involved allegations of Drejka showing a gun. In another, a trooper accused him of aggressive driving and cited him after a crash when Drejka braked hard in front of a woman driving with two children.

Drejka has not spoken publicly in the weeks since he shot and killed 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton. No one has spoken much about him, either. Not family. Not neighbors. Not lawyers. Several alleged victims in previous incidents either declined to comment or could not be reached. Drejka remains, in many ways, an enigma to the public. He has not been arrested.

The shooter was white and the victim was black.  Just an hour ago, however, we got this lede from the Tampy Bay Times: “Shooter charged with manslaughter in Clearwater stand your ground case”.

Prosecutors charged Michael Drejka, the man accused of killing Markeis McGlockton in a shooting that has reignited a debate around Florida’s stand your ground law, with manslaughter Monday.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Drejka was taken into custody Monday morning. He is being booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he will be held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Drejka, 47, has avoided arrest since he shot 28-year-old McGlockton on July 19 because of the controversial self-defense law that eliminated one’s duty to retreat before resorting to force.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced July 20 that his agency was precluded from arresting Drejka because evidence showed it was “within the bookends of stand your ground and within the bookends of force being justified,” which provides immunity from arrest, the sheriff said. He forwarded the case Aug. 1 to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office to make a final charging determination.

Lady Justice by Cartoonist Gunduz Agayev

So, I have ignored Omarossa today but I will pass this bit of sad news on about our country’s Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Music legend Aretha Franklin is “gravely ill,” her family told WDIV-TV (Channel 4) on Monday.

Channel 4 anchor Evrod Cassimy said this morning in a tweet: “I spoke with her family members this morning. She is asking for your prayers at this time.”

She is said to be dying at this time so we’re losing a great voice and person again.

So that’s a little this and that on what may be our last functional branch of government.  Pray it stands its ground.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?