Friday Reads: Our National Nightmare continues …Posted: June 16, 2017
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
We’re going further down the Nixon road to impeachment hearings except we’re not getting rid of Indiana Spiro Pence first. It’s difficult to imagine who is going to be # 46 at this point. Kremlin Caligula appears to be headed for the Nixon paranoia zone–if you read his tweets–while continuing to do untold damage to the basic functioning of our government and society in the mean time. It’s difficult to find a place to start every time I blog these days.
This headline just about knocked me off my chair. I’m beginning to think that Trump thinks all Black Americans grew up in subsidized housing and therefore are experts on it. I don’t know how else to explain this. Here’s the headline from NYDN: ‘President Trump chooses inexperienced woman who planned his son Eric’s wedding to run N.Y. federal housing programs’. This follows his odd appointment of Dr. Ben Carsons as the head of HUD. It speaks volumes about what he thinks about the life experiences of African American to me.
She’s arranged tournaments at Trump golf courses, served as the liaison to the Trump family during his presidential campaign, and even arranged Eric Trump’s wedding.
Now President Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton — who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned — to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York.
Patton was appointed Wednesday to head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, where she’ll oversee distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars.
Patton’s tight relationship with the Trump clan dates back to 2009, when she began serving as the family’s “event planner.”
“Responsible for organizing, executing and assisting with upscale events and celebrity golf tournaments,” her LinkedIn profile says. “Handle celebrity talent acquisition for various marketing projects, philanthropic events and golf tournaments.”
He seems to value whatever he thinks loyalty is over competence which explains the series of failed businesses his left in his wake. Charles Pierce has some interesting analysis in his Trumplandia Chronicles.
The deconstruction of the administrative state continues apace, and descends to low comedy, unless you happen to live in federally subsidized housing in the city of New York. Then, it’s not funny at all.
No. It’s not funny at all.
Meanwhile, we have more headlines about the Griftopia set out by the first family of greed and thuggery. Jared Kushner’s business dealings are under investigation by the Mueller team. This should get interesting. This may unravel a number of money laundering scams. It’s likely to involve offshore banking havens.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.
The Washington Post previously reported that investigators were scrutinizing meetings that Kushner held with Russians in December — first with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state-owned Russian development bank. At the time of that report, it was not clear that the FBI was investigating Kushner’s business dealings.
The officials who described the financial focus of the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
There’s a dream team of specialists going after the Trump Criminal Enterprises and it’s a doozy. The woman investigating money laundering has already dug into the ugly world of Paul Manafort. The Vox article highlights the experience of both the Mueller team and the few lawyers that are willing to take on the Trump Syndicate’s defense.
In a spartan office at the Justice Department, a team of experienced prosecutors is conducting a rapidly expanding probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia — and into whether President Donald Trump himself may be guilty of obstruction of justice.
Led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, the team includes heavy hitters like Michael Dreeben, an expert on criminal law who has argued more than 100 cases in front of the Supreme Court, and Andrew Weissmann, a seasoned prosecutor who’s spent his career going after organized crime.
Adding to the firepower are James Quarles, a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation; Jeannie Rhee, a former senior adviser to former Attorney General Eric Holder and a white-collar crime specialist; and Aaron Zebley, a cybersecurity expert who spent decades in the FBI before joining a private practice.
The appointments come amid growing signs that Trump himself is in Mueller’s crosshairs: On Tuesday night, the Washington Post reported that the special counsel was directly investigating whether the president’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey was an effort to obstruct justice.
The Mueller team is setting up interviews with the nation’s top intelligence officials to find out whether Trump had asked them to try to persuade Comey to drop the FBI’s probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to the Post. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported Tuesday night that Mueller was also looking into possible money laundering by Trump campaign staffers and associates.
The fact that Mueller’s team can conduct such a broad probe — one apparently looking into every possible angle of the Trump-Russia scandal, from possible financial crimes to outright collusion with the Kremlin — is a reflection of just how much legal firepower he has assembled.
The Mueller Team now includes 13 lawyers.
The special counsel’s investigators are looking into questions of Russian interference in last year’s election, and plan to speak to senior intelligence officials, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Mueller is also investigating whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Post reported that the interviews represent a widening of the probe to include looking into whether the President obstructed justice in suggesting to his former FBI Director James Comey that Comey drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, as well as for his firing of Comey.
Mueller’s investigators have asked for information and will talk to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, according to a source, who said they have also sought information from recently retired NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett. Coats and Rogers have testified that they were not pressured by the Trump administration.
The interviews are some of the first indications of the efforts of Mueller’s newly assembled team
Trump is tweeting his life away and likely many lines of potential defense. It seriously reminds me of the final days of the Nixon White House. I keep wondering if some one is going to have to stop him from nuking the Clinton Library at some point. He’s back attacking the Hillary Clinton again as well as fuming about the number of people taking a look at his actions and words. At some point, we will start to see his tax statements and his financial statements. This could be one of those things that goes down as a case study in psychology as much as politics.
President Trump issued an eyebrow-raising tweet Friday morning.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” he wrote.
Trump’s tweet comes less than a day after another strange statement from a senior official in his administration.
On Thursday night, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a statement in which he cautioned Americans against believing stories about the DOJ Russia investigation that cited unnamed sources:
“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”
Though Rosenstein did not explain what prompted the statement, many political observers connected it to recent reports that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Department of Justice investigation into Russian election meddling, is also investigating whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice — though USA Today also noted that it came shortly after a Washington Post report that Mueller’s team is also investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings.
Indiana Spiro Pence has lawyered up. You absolutely cannot convince me–at this point–that he does not know where the bodies are buried. His Sargent Schulz act isn’t going to go far but he did get a good, experienced lawyer. He’s also fundraising today for his PAC which means he’s going to be paying top dollar for said lawyer. They go for about $1000+ an hour these days.
The night before, on the eve of Trump’s first foreign trip—and Pence’s private speech—two news outlets published a pair of eyebrow-raising stories that reflected mounting anxiety within the vice president’s inner circle. The sourcing and strategy seemed clearly choreographed. First, both articles aimed to distance Pence from the chaos engulfing Trump’s White House; CNN quoted “a senior administration adviser” who said Pence “looks tired” and never expected such mayhem on the job, while NBC cited “a source close to the administration” who complained of a “pattern” of Pence being kept in the dark on matters relating to the scandal-plagued former national security adviser, Mike Flynn. Second, both stories were authored by former Pence “embeds,” reporters who had spent months traveling with him and are expertly sourced among the vice president’s tight-knit team. And third, the news accounts cast Pence in a sympathetic light at the very moment when the D.C. media was, for the first time, beginning to hammer him. The New York Timeshad reported the day earlier that Flynn informed the Pence-run transition team before Inauguration Day that he was under federal investigation; the implications for Pence were staggering, and the White House categorically denied the story. But Pence had also courted trouble the week earlier by insisting that Trump’s decision to fire Comey was based on the deputy attorney general’s recommendation—a claim Trump promptly contradicted in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, embarrassing the vice president and sending an awkward question echoing around Washington: Is Pence being kept out of the loop, or is he being deceitful?
Yeah. That’s the question alright. Pence is circling the paleoconservative wagons.
As the Russia investigation continues to expand, for example, Pence took steps this week to protect himself, hiring former U.S. attorney and Virginia attorney general Richard Cullen as his own outside legal counsel, just as Trump has retained attorney Marc Kasowitz.
The vice president’s advisers are also discussing bringing on an additional aide to help with strategy — likely either Nick Ayers, a senior strategist to Pence who is chairman of the vice president’s newly launched super PAC; Marc Short, who currently heads up legislative affairs in the White House; or Marty Obst, the former manager of Pence’s Indiana gubernatorial campaign who is executive director of the super PAC.
The heat is also on the Justice Department’s Deputy Attorney General who released that odd statement on leaks. It sounds like it came from Trump more than a seasoned lawyer. Every one is still trying to decode it. Let me just repeat it so you can see it stand alone.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia probe due to Jeff Sessions’ recusal, released an unorthodox statement Thursday night:
“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations.
The general reaction,summed up by the NY Times’ Maggie Haberman, “Have literally never seen a statement like this.”
The senior Justice Department official with ultimate authority over the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the matter, which he took charge of only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ own recusal, sources tell ABC News.
Those private remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are significant because they reflect the widening nature of the federal probe, which now includes a preliminary inquiry into whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he allegedly tried to curtail the probe and then fired James Comey as FBI director.
Rosenstein, who authored an extensive and publicly-released memorandum recommending Comey’s firing, raised the possibility of his recusal during a recent meeting with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s new third-in-command, according to sources.
Although Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to lead the federal probe, he still makes the final decisions about resources, personnel and — if necessary — any prosecutions.
In the recent meeting with Brand, Rosenstein told her that if he were to recuse himself, she would have to step in and take over those responsibilities. She was sworn-in little more than a month ago.
This seems like the summer of 1973 on steroids. We shall see.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?