Today is the 7th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Looking back, after all the horrendous school shootings that followed and the lack of any serious response by the federal government, we can see clearly how the NRA, along with Russia, has taken control of the Republican Party. We now know that Russia worked with the NRA to elect an evil wannabe dictator to the U.S. presidency.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, United States, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children between six and seven years old, and six adult staff members. Wikipedia
Survivors and supporters are posting remembrances on Twitter. Among them is this story that Senator Chris Murphy about one of the lost children, Daniel Barden.
A reminder that Democrats are trying to make changes to our insane gun laws:
From Everytown Research: Gunfire on School Grounds in the United States.
There were at least 100 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019, resulting in:
- 26 deaths, including 3 suicide deaths (where no one else was harmed) and
- 63 injuries, including 0 self-harm injuries (where no one else was harmed)
Everytown for Gun Safety started tracking incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2013 to gain a better understanding of how often children and teens are affected by gun violence at their schools and colleges, and in response to a lack of research and data on the issue.
Over six years of tracking, this data has shown us that gunfire on school grounds takes many forms and mirrors the problem of gun violence in America. Gunfire on school grounds occurs most often at schools with a high proportion of students of color—disproportionately affecting Black students. For more information, click here to read the analysis of this data and learn about proven solutions that can make schools in America safer.
When it comes to how American children are exposed to gun violence, gunfire at schools is just the tip of the iceberg–every year, nearly 2,900 children and teens are shot and killed and nearly 15,600 more are shot and injured. An estimated 3 million American children are exposed to shootings per year. Witnessing shootings — whether in their schools, their communities or their homes– can have a devastating impact. Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity.
See a map and a list of the incidents at the link. The most recent was on Dec. 2.
Since Columbine permanently etched horrific images into the national consciousness two decades ago, the scene has played out again and again. And school districts around the country have girded themselves against that dreaded scenario, performing drills, hiring armed guards and preparing safety plans.
According to the FBI, there have been 42 “active shooter” incidents at Pre-K through 12 school grounds from 2000-2018, which the bureau defines as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” These include the high-profile incidents like Parkland and Sandy Hook.
But this definition obscures many school shootings — more than two dozen in 2019 alone, according to an ABC News analysis of incidents at K-12 schools — many of which pass under the radar, but impact the students, teachers and communities where they occur….
During the third week of November alone, officers responded to crime scenes on the East and West coasts: in Pleasantville, New Jersey, where a 10-year-old child was killed during a football game, and in Santa Clarita, California, where a teen opened fire on his classmates, killing two and wounding several more at Saugus High School.
With no nationally accepted definition, sorting out what constitutes a school shooting is difficult. Everytown, an independent, non-profit group that studies gun violence, reports it has tracked at least 99 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019 alone (through Dec. 11), including three suicides and 63 injuries….
ABC News has reviewed the database from the non-profit Gun Violence Archives, and, for the purposes of this story, defined a school shooting as an incident where an alleged assailant steps onto the property of an educational institution — during school hours or during an extracurricular activity on the property — and fires a gun at another person, in order to present a fuller picture of violence at schools not covered by the FBI “active shooter” rubric.
Based on news reports and data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, ABC News has found 26 such shootings since January — with half occurring on Fridays. The most violent month was in September, where seven shootings were reported at high schools in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. July was the safest month, according to ABC News’ report.
See a list of the school shootings ABC identified in 2019 at the link.
The New York Times: The Yearbook That Victims of School Shootings Never Collected.
The black, hard-bound book with black lettering is meant to look stark. The harsh cover with only “2018” on its top purposely does not resemble the colorful fronts of normal yearbooks, which “should be about commencement, hopes and dreams and what comes next in life,” its website says.
“Unfortunately,” it adds, “this yearbook is about none of those things.”
It’s a yearbook for people killed in school shootings in 2018.
Created by a group that includes a Parkland survivor and a Sandy Hook mother, as well as several nonprofit organizations, the 2018 yearbook memorializing 37 victims who were fatally shot while under the protective mantle of education has one goal: Stop the violence.
The group is shipping copies of the yearbook to all members of the United States Senate, the governors of every state, each of the 2020 presidential candidates, and President Trump.
“When you lose a child, that pain is with you, every day, all day long,” said Scarlett Lewis, one of the yearbook’s organizers and the mother of Jesse Lewis, 6, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.
This Saturday will be the seventh anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook, where Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first-grade students and six staff members before killing himself as police arrived at the school. Earlier in the day, Mr. Lanza shot and killed his mother.
Before he was shot, Jesse Lewis saved the lives of several classmates after he urged them to flee from the gunfire as Mr. Lanza reloaded, The Hartford Courant reported in October 2013. His mother, who founded the nonprofit Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, said she tries to embody that courage daily.
“I want this project to spur everyone into action,” she said. “The opposite of anxiety is action.”
From a bird’s-eye view, the memorial renderings show a web of paths swirling inward from an expansive circle. Looping through gardens, tree groves and ponds, they join at a single point: a sycamore tree, surrounded by a reflecting pool.
Years in the making, “The Clearing” is Newtown’s proposed design for a public memorial honoring the 26 victims murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on Dec. 14, 2012. Its creators envision a place to remember and respect the deep grief that families here have endured.
Budget issues initially halted progress, but the local board of selectmen and the memorial commission are now ready to move forward. If Newtown voters approve funds for the project next year, the memorial could open by December of 2021.
“For me, it’s not so much about the design, but about what it represents,” said Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was one of the children killed in the tragedy.
Lewis was an early member of The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission before founding the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation to prevent school shootings. Although she is no longer a part of the commission, she continues to support the memorial.
“It’s incredibly important to honor and remember,” she said. “It takes courage to remember, and it’s a great way to learn from past mistakes.”
Survivor stories from AP: As Newtown students grow up, some turn to activism.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — They were children themselves when they lost siblings, friends, and schoolmates in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Too young to comprehend the massacre, they spent years in shock and denial.
Seven years later, some young people in Newtown, still struggling with the trauma, are emerging as new voices for school safety and gun violence prevention. The activism, they say, has been a way to turn something horrific into something positive.
Natalie Barden was 10 when her brother, Daniel, 7, was killed. She attended a different school that went into lockdown as word of the shooting spread. She remembers being annoyed that morning as Daniel hugged her while they got ready for school.
Her favorite memories are of sleeping on Daniel’s bed with Daniel and their older brother, James, because it was the biggest, and watching television, playing board games and wrestling.
Her father, Mark Barden, became an activist with the Sandy Hook Promise group he helped create after the shooting. Natalie disliked the media attention and interviews in their home because they brought back the pain of losing Daniel.
“When you’re that young, it’s really hard to wrap your mind around it,” said Natalie, now a 17-year-old senior at Newtown High School. “Your sibling is such a big part of your life, and to know your brother for only seven years is gone — I still can’t wrap my mind around it. When I got to high school, it really hit me.”
As she entered school, the shock was wearing off. Then 17 people were killed in the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She was inspired by the Parkland teens who demanded action on gun control….
“That just kind of pushed me to become more involved with the whole youth movement,” Natalie said in an interview.
Her sophomore year, Natalie joined the Junior Newtown Action Alliance, the youth arm of the Newtown Action Alliance, a local group dedicated to promoting gun control measures.
She has called the offices of federal lawmakers, urging them to pass gun control bills, including an assault weapons ban. She began going on speaking engagements with her father.
An article she wrote for Teen Vogue last year sparked positive feedback from others affected by mass shootings, she said. She also wrote about her brother, feelings of loss and hope for the future in a chapter of a book published earlier this year, “If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings.”
“I lost my brother, so I know how life-shattering a gun can be,” she said. “I think it’s just human nature to want to prevent others from feeling that way. We’ve kind of lost our innocence. We can’t sit back and ignore it.”
Read the other stories at the AP link.
One more from The Washington Post: My son survived Sandy Hook. It’s changed me as a parent, by Sarah Walker Caron.
When the first few chords of Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” blasted through the loudspeakers, I smiled. But moments later, tears gathered in my eyes, and I fought the urge to break down.
It was a chilly October Saturday afternoon in Maine, when the leaves were a rustling, vibrant array of oranges, reds and magentas. Thousands of people crowded the area, waiting to cheer on the racers.
My son warmed up with his cross-country teammates, readying themselves for their race. Nearby, girls from dozens of high school teams stood at the starting line, waiting for their race to begin.
As the song swirled around all of us — the runners, the parents, the friends — the girls at the starting line broke into song, singing along with loud, strong voices. Dozens of girls, representing dozens of teams, they were brought together in that moment, vibrant, full of life, energetic.
Tears collected in my eyes and dripped down my cheeks. It was a beautiful moment that left me shaken. The camaraderie, the sweetness, the life inside those girls took my breath away. I didn’t even know them. A few deep breaths helped. But the underlying reason I cried can’t be breathed away.
My son — my vibrant, athletic 14-year-old — is a mass shooting survivor.
His life continued because the gunman chose to enter the classroom across the hall, instead of his. It’s a sobering fact that is never far from my consciousness, though I wish it could be. Seven years ago, on Dec. 14, 2012, Will was a 7-year-old second-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
I know there is plenty of other news today; but after I opened Twitter this morning, I decided to focus on the Sandy Hook Anniversary. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments. This is an open thread.
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I’m going to borrow something from the Late Great John Lennon near the anniversary of his death by a crazed white guy looking for attention. History is replete with crazed white guys looking for attention and today is no different. So here it is!
“I got blisters on me fingers!”
And why you ask? It’s because I had to punch the mute button so many times yesterday during the Judiciary Committee’s Congressional Debate on Articles of Impeachment that I should also have carpal tunnel. Just as Brett Kavanaugh sneered, cried, and screamed his way into the Kremlin Potted Plant’s favor, so did the Angry White Men on the bottom shelf of the dais all day and evening and night long yesterday.
Yes, the transition of the body that represents the people to an out and out circus is complete. The debate yesterday featured a repetitive attack on “process” from the Republicans vs “what the president did is unconstitutional and against the rule of law” by the Democrats. It came complete with clowns and verbal dagger throwing fit for Fox news sound bites. The Republican part was designed for the Audience of One whose real claim to fame is the role of a fake successful businessman on reality TV.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Send in the Clowns!
Yes. Nearly half of Congress has transitioned to the new reality TV world spewing propaganda goals as parroted by Fox News cut out personalities. The gyrations of logic twisted into pretzel sentences was befitting of circus acrobats.
As a I write, Jerry Nadler is announcing that the House Judiciary passed the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress impeachment charges. He looks exhausted. We’re all exhausted. Trumpist Republicans and their cult leader live in the world of Abusers so, yes, we’re ALL exhausted.
Historically and Constitutionally, this act is traditionally somber. Yelling like it’s a sportsball match is inappropriate. Frankly, an entire set of mothers should come get their sons and ground them to their basement bedrooms. Shirtless Gym, Mai tai Matt, and lil Dougie should be first back to the nursery.
Kurt Bardella, NBC News THINK contributor, writes this: ” If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.” Yes. This is the new role of Congressional Republican white men in this Reality TV show designed for Fox News Viewers.
Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was “yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”
Indeed, in observing my former House GOP comrades over the many days of contentious House hearings, I am reminded of a scene from the classic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where the famed (and fictional) Channel 4 News team angrily confronts its news director over the hiring of a female reporter. In the scene, several of the male journalists take turns yelling their opposition to the addition. Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, isn’t really smart enough to have a critique but wishing to be included, he screams, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”
That pretty much sums up Republicans’ defense of their current leader. If they yell loud enough and long enough, what they say about the circumstances of this impeachment inquiry will become truth. Their calculation is that by yelling about anything and everything, the American people will either be convinced or at the very least so annoyed they’ll stop watching. To the GOP, yelling seems to be both a demonstration of strength and a deliberate effort to wear down Democrats and any other Americans who care enough to tune in.
Thus, the outrage that’s been on display these past few weeks hasn’t been spontaneous. This isn’t an indication of passion or righteous anger. It is the manifestation of a decadelong marketing strategy that has kept them in the driving seat of Congress for the better part of the Obama and the Trump administrations.
A fiercely divided House Judiciary Committee pushed President Trump to the brink of impeachment on Friday, voting along party lines to approve charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress.
After a fractious two-day debate steeped in the Constitution and shaped by the realities of a hyperpartisan era in American politics, the Democratic-controlled committee recommended that the House ratify two articles of impeachment against the 45th president. In back-to-back morning votes, they adopted each charge against Mr. Trump by a margin of 23 to 17 over howls of Republican protest.
The partisan result and the contentious debate that preceded it were harbingers of a historic proceeding and vote on the House floor, expected next week, to impeach Mr. Trump, whose nearly three-year tenure has exacerbated the nation’s political divisions. Mr. Trump, who insists he did nothing wrong, is now only the fourth American president in history to face impeachment by the House of Representatives for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and possible conviction and removal from office by the Senate.
Check out those adjectives grammar fans!!
These Articles will go to a full floor vote and then into the hands of Mitch McConnell. From Politico: “Republicans try to avoid an impeachment trial civil war.”
The party is uniting around a strategy that could quickly acquit President Donald Trump of articles of impeachment while giving them the opportunity to call witnesses later in the trial if Republicans and the president are not satisfied with how things are going, according to interviews with nearly a dozen Republican senators on Thursday.
Heading into the trial, Republicans’ plan would be to call no witnesses and simply allow House Democrats and then the president’s attorneys to make their case before the public. After that, the Senate would consider calling people either for live testimony or closed-door depositions.
It’s a plan they believe will insulate the Senate GOP from pressure to call a host of controversial witnesses — which the caucus would struggle to do for political and procedural reasons alike — while putting Trump on track to be cleared before the end of January.
“The direction we appear to be headed is to let the House managers present their prima facie case which would mean no witnesses, to let the president’s counsel do the same thing,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of leadership. “And then to decide if there’s a reason to go forward from there.”
House Republicans and Trump have repeatedly urged the Senate GOP and its slim majority to summon the likes of Hunter and Joe Biden before the chamber in a spectacle they believe would bolster the president’s case. Senate Republicans have resisted the idea, warning they couldn’t cobble together the 51 votes needed to do so under Senate rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also repeatedly cautioned his members against votes that divide the party ahead of a tough election year.
Indeed, Repubicans think the show must go on when it comes to Joe Biden and the hapless Hunter. The Clintons had plenty of years to work up thick skins but how will it impact Joe? One of the key signals to this future came from Screaming Mimi MattGaetz. This is from Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin.
All this week the House Judiciary Committee has been holding its own hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. As was the case with the the House Intelligence Committee proceedings, Republican lawmakers, lacking any credible defense of the president, have had to resort to floating insane conspiracy theories and taking sad, cheap shots that have immediately blown up in their faces. On Thursday, it was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida’s turn.
Gaetz, a proud Trump supporter who started the rumor that George Soros was funding migrant caravans and who frequently speaks of the “deep state,” used his time this afternoon to go on a rant about Hunter Biden’s substance abuse problems. Moving to add an amendment to the articles of impeachment mentioning the former vice president’s son, Gaetz read a passage from a New Yorker article detailing an incident in which Hunter was in a crash while driving a rental car; according to the story, the Hertz rental officer on the scene said he found a crack pipe in the car and white powder residue. “I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues,” Gaetz said, convincing no one, “but it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.”
Obviously, it would be slimy under any circumstances to make Hunter Biden’s substance abuse issues part of the conversation. But, incredibly, Gaetz chose to do so despite the fact that he has his own history of…being arrested for driving under the influence. Back in 2008, Gaetz was pulled over driving back from an Okalossa Island nightclub called Swamp after an officer clocked him going 48 in a 35 mile per hour zone. According to the officer, Gaetz, then 26, was driving a BMW SUV registered to his state senator father and fumbled for his license and registration, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and swayed and staggered while getting out of the car. Smelling alcohol, the officer asked Gaetz if he had been drinking, to which Gaetz said no, before admitting minutes later that he had, claiming it was only two beers. The officer reportedly twice conducted an eye test, which Gaetz failed. Gaetz refused field sobriety tests and a breath test and was arrested. Despite the fact that Florida law dictates his license should have been revoked for at least a year for refusing the breath test, Gaetz somehow got to keep his. Ultimately the charges were dismissed, and Gaetz later said that “I made bad decisions that resulted in an arrest, and that is sort of something that we all live with.”
Given his decision to air Biden’s dirty laundry, however, Democrats weren’t just going to let Gaetz shade someone else’s history of allegedly driving under the influence and move on.
This, undoubtedly, will be a taste of our future under the Big Tent.
So, our blog has been around about 10 years now and we’ve been through a lot together. It’s hard to believe that we’d end up watching impeachment hearings together. This is my third time at this rodeo and probably for most of you also and this one just really really feels different.
Nixon was a seriously flawed man with a self esteem problem that caused him to do things he couldn’t do through force of personality or likability. Clinton with his aw shucks who me personality used it to get what he wanted even though it was personal and problematic. Trump is pure, raw, raging ID with more personality disorders than a circus has clowns. Nixon’s chipping away at the rule of law and Clinton’s personal abuses look quite tame by comparison.
Trump has a chorus of screaming, angry white mean and a few tag along women behind his epic meltdowns and complete lack of character and morality. His crimes are orchestrated by feckless enablers and ignored by Machivellian partisans who want to rewrite the Constitution without doing the work through the law making process. No Republican appears to have the probity to bring about an ending that’s best for the country.
As with all things surrounding Trump, I’m not sure any of this will end up well.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
After seeing a few minutes of the MSNBC interview with Barr yesterday…I had to turn the shit off.
Did you see this crap:
Check out some of the responses on that thread.
I believe my expression had to be something like that mountain lion…
Wouldn’t you know it, later last night…
If this impeachment trial in the Senate goes by like we know #MoscowMitch will handle it… I am so fearful of what could end up happening…
Someone is actually selling this design online… (lucashgm on redbubble)
The photo above was taken in Atlanta.
Now a few non-tRump things:
Didn’t something like this happen the last time a Saudi national murdered some dissident… after Khashoggi, women got the right to drive? Yes? (Actually, it was given to them a couple of months before he was killed.) I’m just making a connection.
That asshole. Fucking disgusting.
Let’s end this on a positive note.
This is an open thread.
The paintings in today’s post are by Do Fournier, a contemporary French painter. Here’s a little information about her:
Do Fournier (French, b.1951) is a Contemporary painter, originally from Guerande, Brittany, France. She began her career as a successful illustrator, and, in 1984, changed her focus to the creation of her own paintings. Her works were well received, and numerous prestigious exhibitions of her artworks have been mounted in France. In addition, she has frequently been invited to exhibit at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.
Fournier creates fantastic, colorful, and intimate works inspired by her home in France, which overlooks the sea. Her family and pets, as well as her collection of objects d’art, rugs, and textiles, are her primary subjects.
As the noted French critic Gerard Xuriguera has observed: “Her approach in an uneasy society is not to describe it’s pain but the potential it still has for joy, it’s fragile moments of charm and peacefulness stolen from a routine existence. To do this she expresses reality in its most intimate, sensual, peaceful and carnal form. Not as imitation but as a vision filtered through her observations and cast in the exuberance of her blazing colours. What she is trying to capture is fleeting emotion, to immobilize it and express it as simply as possible.
Right now I’m watching a press conference by House Leader Nancy Pelosi and the chairs of the five House committees involved in the impeachment investigation.
In yesterday’s impeachment hearing, Rep Eric Swalwell spelled out the case against Trump in no uncertain terms.
The New York Times: Another Inquiry Doesn’t Back Up Trump’s Charges. So, on to the Next.
President Trump and his allies spent months promising that a report on the origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation would be a kind of Rosetta Stone for Trump-era conspiracy enthusiasts — the key to unlocking the secrets of a government plot to keep Mr. Trump from being elected in 2016.
On that point, the report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, did not deliver, even as it found serious problems with how F.B.I. officials justified the surveillance of a Trump campaign aide to a federal court.
But by the time it was released, the president, his attorney general, his supporters in Congress and the conservative news media had already declared victory and decamped for the next battle in the wider war to convince Americans of the enemies at home and abroad arrayed against the Trump presidency.
They followed a script they have used for nearly three years: Engage in a choreographed campaign of presidential tweets, Fox News appearances and fiery congressional testimony to create expectations about finding proof of a “deep state” campaign against Mr. Trump. And then, when the proof does not emerge, skew the results and prepare for the next opportunity to execute the playbook.
That opportunity has arrived in the form of an investigation by aRea Connecticut prosecutor ordered this year by Attorney General William P. Barr — and the president and his allies are now predicting it will be the one to deliver damning evidence that the F.B.I., C.I.A. and even close American allies conspired against Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.
Read the rest at the NYT.
One startling revelation from the IG report was that Ivanka Trump has been friends with Christopher Steele for years.
Nearly a decade before the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka met a British intelligence officer who ran the Russia desk — and when the agent left his covert service and moved into private practice in 2010, she stayed in touch, ABC News has learned.
The two exchanged emails but never worked together, and the man, Christopher Steele, would one day re-emerge in a most unexpected way, taking a central role in the Russia scandal that consumed the early years of her father’s presidency, according to a source familiar with their past contacts.
The prior relationship came to light as investigators with the Department of Justice Inspector General’s office was looking into allegations of political bias at the origins of the Russia investigation since May 2018….
In 2007, Ivanka Trump met Steele at a dinner and they began corresponding about the possibility of future work together, the source said. The following year, the two exchanged emails about meeting up near Trump Tower, according to several emails seen by ABC News. And the two did meet at Trump Tower according to the source. The inspector general’s report mentions a meeting with a “Trump family member” there. They suggest Ivanka Trump and Steele stayed in touch via emails over the next several years. In one 2008 exchange they discussed dining together in New York at a restaurant just blocks from Trump Tower.
Ivanka Trump worked as an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, managing a range of foreign real estate projects, including in parts of the world where Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence touted expertise. She and Steele discussed services Orbis could offer to the Trump Organization regarding its planned expansion into foreign markets, according to two sources familiar with the meetings.
Read more at ABC News.
FBI Director Christopher Wray offered mixed reactions to a Justice Department watchdog report that uncovered “serious performance failures” on the part of agents involved in the Russia investigation but ultimately determined the bureau was justified in launching its probe.
In an exclusive broadcast interview with ABC News, Wray lamented “actions described in this report that [he] considered unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution.” But, he said it was “important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.” [….]
But the president and his allies have called it “a major SPY scandal” and accused those involved of working on behalf of the “Deep State.”
Wray did not respond directly to the president, but pushed back on the “Deep State” characterization of the bureau’s work.
“I think that’s the kind of label that’s a disservice to the men and women who work at the FBI who I think tackle their jobs with professionalism, with rigor, with objectivity, with courage,” Wray said. “So that’s not a term I would ever use to describe our work force and I think it’s an affront to them.”
Naturally, Trump is enraged at Wray’s remarks. Will he fire another FBI Director?
President Trump lashed out Tuesday morning at FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, suggesting that “he will never be able to fix the FBI” based on his reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” Trump tweeted. “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”
The 434-page report rebutted conservatives’ accusations that top FBI officials were driven by political bias to illegally spy on Trump advisers as part of the probe into Russian election interference, but it also found broad and “serious performance failures” requiring major changes.
In a statement Monday, Wray, a Trump appointee, said he had ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations,” adding that he would not hesitate to take “appropriate disciplinary action if warranted.”
Cover-up General Bill Barr is also attacking the report by his own independent Inspector General.
Talking Points Memo: How The DOJ Watchdog Forced Barr To Scramble To Undermine Trump-Russia Probe.
Attorney General Bill Barr scrambled on Monday to keep a main anti-DOJ conspiracy theory going, after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a 476-page report finding that the FBI was justified in opening its Trump-Russia investigation.
Horowitz found that there was unanimous support within the Justice Department and FBI in July 2016 for opening an investigation into potential contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and found no evidence that anti-Trump bias played a role in the investigation’s start.
Horowitz opened his probe amid allegations from right-wing talking heads and politicos that partisan bias had propelled FBI officials into investigating the Trump campaign….
The result of the whirlpool of allegations arrived in the form of the Horowitz report, which substantively rebutted the accusations and affirmatively found that FBI officials were justified in opening an investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign.
So, upon the report’s release, both Barr and Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham issued statements disagreeing with Horowitz’s finding.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in his statement, adding that he was relying on evidence beyond the “component parts of the Justice Department.”
More details at the TPM link.
…what was truly surprising to some veterans of the Robert F. Kennedy building and the DC bar was the reaction from Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham, who Barr tapped to run a parallel investigation of Crossfire Hurricane and related investigations. Both issued statements throwing significant shade at Horowitz’s report, though, technically, Barr is Horowitz’s boss. “I’ve never seen such an internal DOJ effort to challenge and undermine the IG’s findings,” Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney, told me Monday. “It is not what the Department of Justice does.” [….]
“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr wrote in a statement. “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”
Barr’s decision to publicly distance himself from Horowitz’s findings was met with some astonishment. “No law enforcement purpose is served by the Attorney General announcing that he disagrees with the inspector general’s conclusion that the FBI had an adequate predicate for its investigation of Russia’s contacts with the Trump campaign,” William Jeffress, a white-collar defense attorney who worked on the Valerie Plame leak case, told me. Barr’s missive was reminiscent of the now infamous four-page summary of Robert Mueller’s report, respinning the results of an exhaustive investigation in ways favorable to the president. “The statement by Barr will only deepen the sense that he is a Trump partisan who lacks the independence to lead the Department of Justice,” Jeffress added.
What else is happening? What stories have you been following?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
So, I’m here with the TV blaring the Impeachment hearings and cup of coffee when I finally see the credentials of the majority Republican on the Judiciary Committee. There’s a reason that every time he speaks up that he seems like the Grand Inquisitor in service to the Evil King. I rather made the false assumption that most of the folks on that committee are well-qualified lawyers because, well judiciary committee.
The Chief Inquisitor for the Republicans–Representative Doug Collins from Georgia–is that most horrid of people, a southern bible banging snake handler!. He went to a Baptist seminary before trotting his ass off to a buy a law degree from a private, for profit Law Degree Mill in Atlanta. It took this silly little school until 2005 for the ABA to actually recognize it as something maybe more than a paper mill.
Collin’s has a habit of peddling in toxic things. He even spent time as a salesman selling hazardous material safety products to Georgia’s state and local governments. He’s also co-owner of a Scrapbook Store with his wife. Wow! That’s certainly some credentials to spend your days trying to figure out what’s constitutional and what’s not. No wonder he can’t espouse the most simple concept of US America Law.
We’ve already had several mentions of the walking example of Trumpist Corruption, America’s Black Mailer, Rudy Guiliani. Guilliani is no fool unlike Collins who opens his mouth to prove it daily. Rudy knows what he’s doing as outlined in this article from The Atlantic and Franklin Foer. Just as Collins is the Grand Inquisitor putting blind faith before the rule of law, Rudy Guilliani is the ultimate fixer who once worked on the right side of the rule of law.
In the pages of Adam Schiff’s impeachment report, however, an entirely different character emerges. That Giuliani is a savvy operator who rolls his bureaucratic opponents with ruthlessness and ease. He is the master of what Ambassador William Taylor branded the “irregular channel,” which appears to have been a very profitable piece of turf. Giuliani’s unofficial perch in the Trump administration seems to be the basis for a booming business. Butt-dials aside, he should be regarded as one of the most outrageously effective influence peddlers of all time.
To understand the practice Giuliani has built, it’s useful to compare his trajectory with that of Paul Manafort. Both men offered their services to Trump for free, which they likely understood would ingratiate themselves with the mogul, who notoriously hates paying contractors. And they seem to have shared a theory of how Trump could be monetized. After establishing their proximity to the president, they likely understood that the perception of incomparable access would have magnetic appeal to foreign clients. When Manafort landed in jail, Giuliani had no rival for the title of the ultimate fixer in Trump’s Washington.
Giuliani has specialized in the growth market of kleptocrats hoping to avoid jail. He has represented a Romanian real-estate magnate imprisoned for a shady land deal, and a Turkish gold trader accused of funneling money to Iran. Then there’s his mystery client suspected of foreign bribery, whose case he discussed with the head of the Department of Justice’s criminal division. Giuliani described this client to The New York Times as “very, very sensitive.” These clients seem to hire Giuliani not for his courtroom skills or strategic acumen, but in the hopes that his prestige and bureaucratic skill can rescue them from prosecution.
Both Guiliani and AG Barr work to defend Trump using their deep experience and understanding of US Law to further the corruption of the President and to support their own interests and ideologies. This is from Politico today by Natasha Bertrand and .Darren Samuelson. Trump’s behavior during the election season with the Russians and his continued courting of Putin’s favor brings an answer to Collins question this morning in his opening screed about what’s the central theme of this impeachment. It is, Grand Inquisitor Collins, “all roads lead to Russia”.
Amid President Donald Trump’s years-long quest to undermine the Russia investigation and claim “total exoneration,” a tale of two lawyers has emerged.
The first — a former New York City mayor-turned fixer for various foreign potentates and, ultimately, for the president of the United States — took the outside lane, attempting to exonerate his client with a backchannel pressure campaign on Ukraine that would ostensibly clear Trump, and Moscow, of wrongdoing in 2016.
The second, a veteran corporate attorney who’s now served two Republican presidents as attorney general, has taken an inside track, defending Trump in the courts, congressional testimony, press conferences and speeches—and at times within his own department.
The work of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and a key outside adviser dating back to the 2016 campaign, all but imploded when a whistleblower complaint about the president’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian leaders set off an impeachment investigation.
Attorney General Bill Barr’s efforts have arguably been more successful—at least, that is, in pleasing his boss.
Barr’s presentation of the special counsel’s investigation as essentially clearing Trump of wrongdoing generated favorable headlines for the president and obscured key findings from Robert Mueller’s 448-page report. The review he ordered of the intelligence community’s conduct in the Russia probe may not yield the bombshells imagined by the president and his defenders, but it has fed a steady drip of stories in the conservative press touting damning revelations to come.
Even the long-awaited Justice Department Inspector General report due out Monday that is expected to debunk several conspiracy theories about the FBI’s Russia probe has served Barr’s interests in a way — generating cable chyrons announcing a criminal inquiry, albeit into the conduct of a low-level FBI lawyer.
That report is the next shoe to drop in the continuing saga of tinfoil hat hypotheses that the President is doing nothing wrong and that he’s not serving masters who fund him from the Russian State.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report is expected to address a simmering dispute that lies at the heart of the partisan fight that has animated Washington for the past two years.
The question is, Did the Justice Department and FBI do anything improper when investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia?
While political battles over the Russia probe have recently given way to the impeachment fight over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, Republicans and Democrats have been eagerly awaiting the inspector general’s report in the hopes that it will support their respective claims.
The report, which will run hundreds of pages, is expected to contain elements that both sides can seize to buttress their respective arguments about the FBI, the Justice Department and the propriety of investigating the actions of the candidate who became president and those around him.
Today’s Impeachment hearings has turned into a partisan brawl under the craziness of Collins and his Republican cronies who are protecting their head of state with the fervor of the cult fanatic. WAPO is providing live updates at this link.
It’s hard to watch this knowing that there is an ongoing obstruction of justice action going by every one around Trump. Just Security has this fact check up today on the Republican’s report from the Intelligence Committee. “Seven Outright Falsehoods in GOP Staff Report on Impeachment”. How can you consider their actions any thing but bad faith and tinfoil hat takes? We should not lose the fact that the AID to the Ukrainians is still not fully paid and it took some actions by Congress to restore it. This is the absolute PRIME narrative to follow in this impeachment hearings.
Not everything in the report is a lie. In many instances, it is clear that, where possible, there was great care taken to avoid outright mistruths, through the careful phrasing of arguments to suggest a more sweeping defense than is actually offered, or through focusing on irrelevant and ambiguous witness testimony while ignoring direct and clear testimony to the contrary.
But staying within the bounds of the factual record – or even within the bounds of reasonable subjective interpretation of the record – could only get House Republican staff so far, and much of the report doesn’t just dance around the truth so much as it strides into deliberate falsehood. In order to depict the events at the heart of the Trump-Ukraine impeachment inquiry in a light that could at all be construed as a defense of President Trump’s conduct, it appears that some outright lies were needed.
Here is a list of the seven most damaging falsehoods included in the minority report:
1. “Although the security assistance was paused in July, it is not unusual for U.S. foreign assistance to become delayed.” (Minority at 32)
The minority report dismisses the hold on the security assistance to Ukraine as a routine quirk in the way government operates – “not unusual,” and nothing more than “a bureaucratic issue that would be resolved.” (Minority at 32)
This is a lie. The hold was not routine – nothing like it had ever happened before. (e.g., Cooper at 98; Sandy at 88) The hold was not bureaucratic – it was ordered directly by President Trump himself. (e.g., Hale at 180) And the hold was not due to any sort of interagency conflict – because “the unanimous view of all the agencies [involved in Ukraine and apportionment policy] was that the hold should be lifted and the aid should flow to Ukraine.” (Williams at 115)
In fact, witness testimony showed that, in the entirety of the U.S. government, there is exactly one person who is known to have been in favor of the hold on security assistance to Ukraine. And that is President Trump himself. Witnesses unanimously testified that the agencies were given no explanation for the hold (see Part II), or for the eventual decision to restore the aid.
What’s perhaps most devastating to the Minority’s argument is that the White House actually exceeded the deadline for all of the security assistance to be spent—despite the Pentagon’s warning this would occur (Cooper). It took a new act of Congress to restore the full aid, which occurred in September.
Indeed, this is yet another Trumpist exercise to Gaslight the nation. It is only fitting the fight is led by an old timey Southern Baptist snake handler with a specious Law degree.
The Republicans continue to throw parliamentary inquiries around like first graders trying to learn how to be student council members. They’re doing everything to block the witnesses including complaining about to many documents (8000) and too little.
Let’s see how much more of this we can take!
Oh, dear sweet kingcake baby jezuz that Craziness from Louisiana’s Republican hack Johnson continues. He wants to quit the process because folks are being mean to Trumpers.
So, on to witnesses …
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Surely you have seen these updates or heard the latest shit from tRump. I’m blocking the asshole out this weekend so this is just a few tweets that caught my attention.
It’s an open thread.