Thursday Reads

Paul Gustave Fischer (1860-1934): “In the Train Compartment”

Good Afternoon!!

I’m struggling to get going this morning. Having a madman as president is exhausting. Some days I just can’t deal with the news. As usual when this happens, breaking news has overtaken me. There’s a new investigation of General Michael Flynn.

CNN: Pentagon warned Flynn in 2014 against taking foreign payments; IG launches investigation.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 against accepting foreign payments as he entered retirement, according to new documents obtained by the House oversight committee.

The inspector general of the Department of Defense also opened an investigation of Flynn earlier this month, according to an April 11 letter released by the oversight committee Thursday.

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, in a statement. “Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation. I thank the Department of Defense for providing us with unclassified versions of these documents.”

The news comes two days after Cummings and House oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz said Flynn may have broken the law by not disclosing payments he received from RT-TV, a station widely considered to be a propaganda arm of the Russian government.

At Politico, a little more on the warning Flynn received in 2014.

The intelligence agency informed President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser in a letter that, as a retired military officer, he was still subject to the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars government officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments.

Flynn was notified in the letter that he was prohibited from the “receipt of consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoraria, or salary … from a foreign government unless congressional consent is first obtained.”

In a letter dated earlier this month, the Pentagon’s IG informed the House Oversight Committee it was investigating the matter.

Carmichael, Stewart: Dundee Women Reading the War News

Also breaking mid-morning at The Hill: Dems issue shutdown threat over ObamaCare repeal vote.

House Democrats will oppose a short-term spending bill if Republican leaders attempt to expedite an ObamaCare repeal bill this week, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) warned Thursday. For those with high arched problems on their feet I suggest to get running shoes for high arches so that you can keep healthy with no problem.

Hoyer, the Democratic whip, spoke with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Thursday morning to warn him of the Democrats’ position.

The threat is significant because GOP leaders will likely need Democratic votes to pass a short-term spending bill in the face of opposition from conservatives historically opposed to government funding bills.

“If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful TrumpCare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week Continuing Resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well,” Hoyer said in an email.

“Republicans continue to struggle to find the votes to pass a bill that will kick 24 million Americans off their health coverage, allow discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, and impose an age tax on older Americans. That’s why they are trying to jam it through the House before their Members can hear from the American people this weekend about their opposition to this horrible legislation.”

This might be a relief to the remaining rational Republicans who don’t want to deal with constituents who will lose their health care if they vote for the bill–even though it would likely die in the Senate.

From last night, the House Intelligence Investigation of Trump and Russia is reportedly back on track. CNN: House Russia investigators agree on schedule, get new access to documents after ‘reset.’

“We’re working in a bipartisan manner, we’re going to be thorough, professional and meticulous,” House Russia investigation leader Mike Conaway told CNN on Wednesday. Conaway added that he is in discussions to get access to the top-level intelligence typically reserved for the “Gang of Eight” in Congress, but he declined to elaborate.

Conaway and Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat on the investigation, met and agreed on a likely witness schedule, culled from a witness list that investigators say includes 3-4 dozen names. Conaway told House intelligence committee members Tuesday that they should plan on spending more time in Washington as the investigation gears up….

Rep. Denny Heck, a Washington Democrat on the investigation said that Democrats agreed on rescheduled the private hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers, and Republicans agreed to reschedule the public hearing with former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“We also are now having made available to us documents that were not heretofore available to us before,” Heck said. “So every indication is that we are now leaning into this. And I think (Conaway) ought to be given the space to do the right thing”

I sure hope it’s true.

Unknown reader, Andre Derain

Another Fox News host has gone on a sudden “vacation” after making sexual suggestive remarks about Ivanka Trump. Mediaite reports: Coincidence? Jesse Watters Announces He’s Going On Vacation Following Ivanka Flap.

In the wake of heavy criticism he’s received over remarks he made about Ivanka Trump and a microphone, Fox News’ Jesse Watters announced at the end of tonight’s broadcast of The Five that he’s taking a short vacation.

Watters has come under fire for making what was perceived by many as a penis joke about Ivanka. After watching a clip of her speaking at a women’s conference, the Fox News host said that he really likes “how she was speaking into that microphone” while flashing his signature smirk. It also appeared that he was making some hand gestures.

He later told Mediaite that he was describing the First Daughter’s voice, which he says is “low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ.”

Gabriel Sherman suggests there may be “a management shakeup at Fox News.”

As Fox News is roiled by lawsuits and the ouster of Bill O’Reilly, the network’s co-president Bill Shine has retained the backing of the Murdochs. On Monday, Rupert Murdoch took network co-presidents Shine and Jack Abernethy to lunch at Marea, a seafood restaurant near Fox’s midtown headquarters — a highly public show of support.

But privately, Shine is expressing concern about his future at the network. According to three sources briefed on the conversations, Shine has told friends he recently asked Rupert’s sons James and Lachlan — the CEO and co-chairman, respectively, of network parent company 21st Century Fox — to release a statement in support of him, but they refused to do so. The sources said Shine made the request because of withering press coverage of Fox News in recent weeks. A source added that Shine has privately complained that Rupert “isn’t fighting for him” in the press, which is why he wanted explicit support from the sons.

Through a Fox News spokesperson, Shine denied personally going to James and Lachlan for a statement. A Murdoch spokesperson said Shine did not directly ask for a statement.

By refusing to back Shine at this tumultuous moment for the network, the Murdochs may finally be signaling that they’re prepared to make the sweeping management changes they’ve so far resisted after forcing out CEO Roger Ailes last summer. Shine’s continued leadership has angered many Fox News employees, especially women, who view him as a product of the misogynistic Ailes culture. Shine joined the network in 1996, served as Sean Hannity’s producer, and rose through the ranks to become Ailes’s deputy. In that role, sources say he had the power to stop multiple instances of sexual harassment, including that of former Fox booker Laurie Luhn, but did not do so. He’s currently a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed this week by former Fox host Andrea Tantaros.

More at the New York Magazine link above.

At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring

Last night Rachel Maddow gave a helpful explication of yesterday’s complicated article on Jared Kushner’s sleazy business deals: Bribe Cases, a Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts. Here’s the introduction:

It was the summer of 2012, and Jared Kushner was headed downtown.

His family’s real estate firm, the Kushner Companies, would spend about $190 million over the next few months on dozens of apartment buildings in tony Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including the East Village, the West Village and SoHo.

For much of the roughly $50 million in down payments, Mr. Kushner turned to an undisclosed overseas partner. Public records and shell companies shield the investor’s identity. But, it turns out, the money came from a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family, which built a fortune as one of the world’s leading diamond traders.

A Kushner Companies spokeswoman and several Steinmetz representatives say Raz Steinmetz, 53, was behind the deals. His uncle, and the family’s most prominent figure, is the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is under scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in four countries. In the United States, federal prosecutors are investigating whether representatives of his firm bribed government officials in Guinea to secure a multibillion dollar mining concession. In Israel, Mr. Steinmetz was detained in December and questioned in a bribery and money laundering investigation. In Switzerland and Guinea, prosecutors have conducted similar inquiries.

The Steinmetz partnership with Mr. Kushner underscores the mystery behind his family’s multibillion-dollar business and its potential for conflicts with his role as perhaps the second-most powerful man in the White House, behind only his father-in-law, President Trump.

Here’s Rachel’s report:

 

 

I have more links to share. I’ll post them in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?

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37 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Love the painting, bb!

    The press is just catching up to the fact that we have a family criminal enterprise in the WH. The whole bunch, including cabinet members, are up to their necks in financial criminality as they go about gutting every department they have been appointed to oversee.

    There is a very good reason why so many positions have gone unfilled: Steve Bannon. His entire cachet has been to collapse the government even if we are placed at risk by these cuts and under filled roles. The State Dept is one example.

    Flynn’s activities – which I believe will lead us right into Trump’s unsavory participation – is just begging for a special prosecutor. Thanks to an investigative press who keep digging away there is just too much coming out that cannot be ignored.

    Watergate’s “follow the money” is the mantra. So much to be made out of lifting those sanctions that these weasels were willing to sell out democracy for a piece of the action. The truth may be slow in coming but it is coming.

    Our nation’s future is at stake and the GOP cannot ignore the dirt for too much longer. Flynn is merely the tip of the iceberg. No wonder Trump put unqualified Jared in charge of everything but the laundry pick up: he is there to keep others out while they loot and destroy.

    Jared is the gatekeeper to the billions they expect to make when those sanctions are lifted.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Ivanka is busy grifting from her White House office. From Josh Marshal:

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/this-is-amazing-6

      This is really quite astounding. In this morning’s edition of Mike Allen’s not-Playbook from Axios he introduces what seems to be Ivanka Trump setting up something that sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation, only in this case run from within the White House by a top presidential aide who is also the President’s daughter, who also runs her own large international company and who also has two brothers who are currently running the President/Father’s company and trying to rake in as much money as possible on the fame and power of the presidency. Also, let’s be honest, the Trumps are a notoriously corrupt family, especially when it comes to running foundations.

      No less astounding is that Allen never mentions that there’s anything problematic about this or that it doesn’t mimic in a wildly more corrupt way what President Trump nominally ran most of the 2016 campaign against.

  2. dakinikat says:

    We still have a sense of humor despite the last 100 daze.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39731085

    Trump’s immigrant crime hotline trolled with calls about aliens and UFOs

  3. quixote says:

    Love the paintings, bb!

    (The news? Not so much. Thank you for reading it so I don’t have to!)

    • jan says:

      I once was in a place provided in a railroad station for mothers with children, it had cribs, rocking chairs and access to a restroom, private from the waiting area. Lovely place, I remember it even after 50 years. If these places want a mother to breast feed in private they can darn well provide the facilities!!!

      • bostonboomer says:

        The thing is, VA and many other states have laws that say women can breastfeed in public.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Good Gawdesses I hope not!!!

    • Enheduanna says:

      To me this part reads like victim-blaming:

      …”the failure among his many critics to mobilize and maintain a higher level of indignation is letting him get away with his offenses against good taste, sound policy, ethical norms, and possibly even the law itself.”

      I sure hope by “critics” he isn’t blaming tRump’s crimes on the public. Those most to blame for failure to criticize tRump are the press and the GOPer-controlled Congress.

      The author also seems to be erasing the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of protesters and people newly seeking public office.The Resistance is strong.

      • Enheduanna says:

        …..newly seeking public office….The Resistance is strong.

        Not sure what happened there.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

    Are Trump voters ruining America for all of us?: Tom Nichols
    First 100 days suggest our democracy is more likely to die in dumbness than in darkness.

    Not surprisingly, Trump is at this point the most unpopular new president in the history of modern polling. What is bewildering is that at the same time, 96% of Trump voters say they have no regrets about their choice. How can this be? Is it just partisanship, with Americans so divided that they will simply cheer on their own team and stay loyal beyond all rational thought?

  7. bostonboomer says:

    A timeline of Trump conflicts of interest from CREW.

    https://citizensforethics.org/trump-timeline/

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Karma:

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  9. dakinikat says:

    Great minds BB! Yup. KARMA big time KARMA.

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    See this

    When I see shit like this I wonder what other shoe is gonna drop.

  11. roofingbird says:

    I have nothing to add to this litany of woe and wonderment, except that I’m eating ripened Loquats off my tree for dinner, and they are awfully good. When the other shoe drops, I’ll get the popcorn out. Right now, I’m just going to gaze at my tree and be thankful.

  12. NW Luna says:

    BB, thanks for paintings you chose to go with this post. I relaxed some just looking at the top one. Good to take a few minutes to pay attention and experience not-crazy!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I may keep looking for more relaxing paintings to distract from the Trump horror.

      • NW Luna says:

        Wonderful. I could feel my shoulders un-tensing as I absorbed the relaxed feeling and imagined being in an environment of calmness, and of thoughtful reading and conversation. The top one isn’t sunny and could be foreboding, but I read that people shared a desire to be sensible and face everything together, even if they were going to be be stiff-upper-lip about it. The Andersen Ring painting has a delightful painterly treatment of the morning light throughout the room.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • NW Luna says:

      Of course they show counties won — not a representation of the number of votes won, which show him losing the popular vote.

      What an egotistical, insecure man.

  14. bostonboomer says:

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