Lazy Saturday Reads

Key West Chairs, Dorine MacLauchlan

Good Afternoon!!

Another huge story broke last night at the Washington Post, and this one appears to have been leaked by people in the intelligence community or the White House who are trying to damage Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The Goldfish Window, Childe Hassam

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Current and former U.S. officials said that assertion is at odds with Kislyak’s accounts of conversations during two encounters over the course of the campaign, one in April ahead of Trump’s first major foreign policy speech and another in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

It would be interesting to know who leaked this–could it possibly have come from Michael Flynn? In any case, this is highly sensitive information that the Post reportedly had in June but held it until last night.

The Post also published a damaging story about Jared and Ivanka’s lies of omission: In revised filing, Kushner reveals dozens of previously undisclosed assets.

Jared Kushner failed to disclose dozens of financial holdings that he was required to declare when he joined the White House as an adviser to President Trump, his father-in-law, according to a ­revised form released Friday.

separate document released Friday also showed that Kushner’s wife, presidential daughter Ivanka Trump, had been paid as much as $5 million from her outside businesses over an 84-day span this spring around the time she entered the White House as a senior adviser and pledged to distance herself from her private holdings.

Saturday Afternoon, William Gunning King

Kushner’s new disclosure, released by the White House, detailed more than 70 assets that his attorneys said he had inadvertently left out of earlier filings. The new document comes as the presidential aide faces increasing scrutiny as part of investigations into alleged Russian influence in the 2016 campaign….

The new filing reveals Kushner’s past and current investments in an array of entities, including a real estate trading platform now valued at $800 million in which he continues to hold a large stake. He and his wife also disclosed that their contemporary art collection is valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

Kushner’s financial disclosure has been updated 39 times since his first filing in March.

From today’s New York Times: Ivanka Trump Received at Least $12.6 Million Since 2016, Disclosure Shows.

Ivanka Trump or her trust received at least $12.6 million since early 2016 from her various business ventures and has an arrangement to guarantee her at least $1.5 million a year even as she serves in a top White House position, according to her first ethics disclosure made public late Friday.

The report was released alongside an updated filing by her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also serving as a top adviser to President Trump. It shows that the couple benefit from an active business empire worth as much as $761 million to them, an arrangement that ethics experts warn poses potentials for conflicts of interest as the couple have been given a wide-ranging portfolio of government responsibilities.

Ms. Trump, who resigned from nearly 300 leadership positions at various entities within the family real estate businesses and at her fashion brand, has continued to receive millions of dollars from both streams, including more than $2.4 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington and more than $2.5 million in salary and severance from the Trump Organization.

Ms. Trump received about $1.7 million in payments from T International Realty, the family’s luxury brokerage agency, as well as two other real estate companies for various management, consulting and licensing work, the documents show, these companies all are one of the best because they use hoa software to keep themselves organized. Those payments, for work done in 2016, were based on the companies’ performance.

But going forward, she will receive fixed payments — a change that her advisers say was developed in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics to minimize her potential conflicts by removing her interest in how well her family’s business performs.

More at the link.

Brookside Park Pasadena on a Saturday Afternoon

I was really looking forward to seeing Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort testify publicly, but unfortunately it will be behind closed doors now. CNN: Trump Jr. and Manafort reach deal with Senate panel to avoid public hearing.

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have cut a deal with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to avoid being subpoenaed for a high-profile public hearing next week, with the two men agreeing to provide records to the panel and to be privately interviewed ahead of any public session.

In a joint statement, panel Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein said, “(W)e will not issue subpoenas for them tonight requiring their presence at Wednesday’s hearing but reserve the right to do so in the future.”

Feinstein tweeted later Friday evening, “The Judiciary Committee will talk to Trump Jr. & Manafort before they testify in public, but we will get answers.”

Last week, Trump Jr. told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would testify under oath about his recently revealed 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, where he attempted to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

But after the Senate Judiciary Committee invited him to attend a public hearing, the President’s eldest struck the agreement to avoid it, instead going behind closed doors.

Sources familiar with the matter say no date has been set for his and Manafort’s private interviews with the committee.

It seems as if Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr is getting more serious about his Russia investigation. Yesterday he publicly criticized House Intel chair Devin Nunes.

Talking Points Memo: Senate Intel Chair: ‘The Unmasking Thing Was All Created By Devin Nunes.’

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) on Friday accused his counterpart in the House, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), of creating a false narrative about Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice.

Madeline in a Wheat Field, Daniel Ridgway Knight

Speaking to CNN after Rice was interviewed by the panel in closed session, Burr said he asked no questions about whether she improperly requested and revealed the identities of U.S. individuals swept up in intelligence reports—an accusation Nunes has made repeatedly.

“The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes, and I’ll wait to go through our full evaluation to see if there was anything improper that happened,” Burr told CNN. “But clearly there were individuals unmasked. Some of that became public which it’s not supposed to, and our business is to understand that, and explain it.”

With an assist from the White House, the House Intelligence chairman in March embarked on a one-man crusade to accuse Rice of improperly unmasking the identities of members of Trump’s campaign in intelligence reports. Though President Donald Trump said he believed Rice’s actions broke the law, bipartisan lawmakers who viewed the same classified reports from which Nunes drew his conclusions said they saw no evidence of wrongdoing. National security experts also told TPM that it was within Rice’s purview as national security adviser to request that names be unmasked as she tried to determine the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Nunes ended up temporarily stepping aside from the House investigation after ethics watchdogs accused him of improperly disclosing classified information in his public statements about Rice. He recently told CNN that he remains fully “read-in” to the House probe and never formally recused himself, however.

Trump has reportedly been asking his lawyers if he can pardon himself and members of his family and staff. Here’s a response in a Washington Post op-ed by Lawrence Tribe, Richard Painter, and Norman Eisen: No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so.

Saturday Afternoon, Mark Arian

Can a president pardon himself? Four days before Richard Nixon resigned, his own Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opined no, citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.” We agree.

The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.

The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.

The pardon provision of the Constitution is there to enable the president to act essentially in the role of a judge of another person’s criminal case, and to intervene on behalf of the defendant when the president determines that would be equitable. For example, the president might believe the courts made the wrong decision about someone’s guilt or about sentencing; President Barack Obama felt this way about excessive sentences for low-level drug offenses. Or the president might be impressed by the defendant’s subsequent conduct and, using powers far exceeding those of a parole board, might issue a pardon or commutation of sentence.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

This has been an mind-boggling week for Trump Russia news. I’m kind of relieved to have the weekend to process everything, since I assume Trump will be golfing. Next week could be even worse. Will Trump try to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Will Jeff Sessions have to resign? We’ll have to wait and see.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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46 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers! It looks like our heat wave is ending soon, so I’m happy about that.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    All these people do is lie. Lie after lie, day after day.

    Sessions needs to go. As the Atty General he has done nothing but lie about his Russian contacts which begs the question: why?

    Kushner needs to go. How often has he had to revise his application? His lies also regarding his Russian connections stinks to the high heavens.

    Manafort seems up to his neck in money laundering and his Russian connections reek.

    Flynn holds the key to the collapse of the Russian connection and infiltration of that campaign so it will be interesting to see how far he is willing to go to save his own skin.

    And that leaves President Liar in Chief who has essentially admitted his involvement by seeking information regarding “pardons”. If this doesn’t spell guilt I am not sure what qualifies.

    This entire sorry administration is based on a tissue of lies since the day this idiot declared his candidacy. Frankly, we are witnessing an illegitimate presidency based on lies.

    Thank god the press has uncovered a willing “leaker” who is providing this inside information for whatever reason or we may never have known how deep the treachery goes.

    I have a feeling there is more than one “Deep Throat” at work.

  3. This whole mess is worse than wading through a Russian novel! Personally, I’d rather be rereading Dostoyevsky. Even though I can’t remember how to spell his name. Thanks as always for your great reporting.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Because it’s Caturday:

    Humane Rescue Alliance, an animal rescue service in D.C., and yoga studio, “Yoga Heights,” hosted a yoga class in which foster kittens roamed around with participants.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/foster-kittens-look-for-fur-ever-homes-at-yoga-class/2017/07/21/4594b2c0-6cc1-11e7-abbc-a53480672286_video.html

  5. dakinikat says:

    whoa …

  6. NW Luna says:

    So much better than tweets about golfing at overpriced gold-toileted resorts!

  7. NW Luna says:

    Caturday & Dogday:

    • quixote says:

      Oh, maaaaan. That’s in actual fact laugh-out-loud-while-rolling-on-floor stuff!

      They mention a Degas dancer analogue for Ivanka-Swan-Neck. I wish they’d previewed that one!

      Loved the editor’s comment. “Seriously. Putin asked us to do it.”

    • NW Luna says:

      LOL, lol lol! I may have to buy a hard copy of that issue.

  8. Earlynerd says:

    I heard from a Forest Service employee back in January tRump was going to do this. Now it’s official.

    I strongly urge everyone over 62 to just pay the $10 now and tuck the thing away somewhere, even if you don’t think you’re going to use it. They’re incredible bargains: good for admission and discounts, not just in National Parks, like Olympic National Park, Yellowstone and Yosemite, but also in National Forest Service, BLM and Corps of Engineers recreational areas, like the extremely popular Kerr Lake area just down the mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway in northwestern NC.

    http://kval.com/news/local/lifetime-park-passes-will-cost-seniors-80-and-they-are-preparing

    • NW Luna says:

      What??! So important to get that tax cut for the rich, I guess.

      • Earlynerd says:

        I know, right?

        Especially since seniors, and especially women seniors, are likely to be the fastest-growing segment of the no-permanent-address population under tRump’s America.

        I made it to Social Security by the skin of my teeth, and am now okay based on my lifelong work history, but know so many others, particularly women who had only marriage to a male wage recipient as their only earnings record, who are in serious trouble now.

        But then there’s the fact that, to a woman, they voted Republican.

    • Delphyne49 says:

      Here’s the PDF of where to buy the passes in all States.

      https://store.usgs.gov/sites/default/files/PassIssuanceList.pdf

    • Mary Luke says:

      They are also good for the National Seashore which runs the entire length of the lower Cape Cod from Eastham to Provincetown. I would guess that means the pass would be good at any other National Seashore beach in the country. But the lower Cape, if you haven’t seen it, is spectacular.

  9. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Women didn’t have too much of a voice then either, along with POC. They don’t know much if they’re attacking liberals more than the conservatives. And Roosevelt’s New Deal and Social Security were incredibly important advances. They’ll figure that out if they live long enough to get Social Security — and if the Repugs don’t dismantle it before then.

      Also, WTF?

      Democrats passed Obamacare, a largely ineffective market-based solution.

      There they go again, making the perfect the enemy of the good.

  10. NW Luna says:

  11. NW Luna says:

  12. purplefinn says:

    From NPR: “CDC: Half Of All Female Homicide Victims Are Killed By Intimate Partners”

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/21/538518569/cdc-half-of-all-female-murder-victims-are-killed-by-intimate-partners

    • bostonboomer says:

      I would have thought the percentage would be higher than that. I know that pregnant women are highly endangered.

  13. Sara says:

    Here’s a link to NYT about Scaramucci & Trump

  14. joanelle says:

    It’s taken me almost a year to get my online life (almost) whole again. Last August I was hit by ransomeware and lost most of my poems, short stories, book, contacts, etc. I was in the midst of downloading to my external hard drive – all the “doors and windows” were open when I got hit.
    Our home was broken into a few years ago and, although we had no really valuable jewelry, it was all stolen, grandma’s cameo, mom’s engagement ring, stuff that had significant sentimental value. That’s what being hit by randomware is like – another void.
    But now I have been able to recapture about a third of it and am feeling a bit better. Visiting Skydancers everyday has helped a lot. Thanks for still being here since 2008!

    • NW Luna says:

      Joanelle, so sorry to hear about what happened to you. How awful!
      Glad to hear things are getting a little better. And thanks for being here and commenting. We give each other strength.

    • Enheduanna says:

      That is awful to hear – it must have been devastating. I’m glad things are looking up joanelle!

    • Sweet Sue says:

      What a nightmare, Joanelle, I’m really sorry that you endured that.
      Now to be selfish, do you have any tips to avoid such a catastrophe?

      • quixote says:

        Rolling backups to a drive that is not connected to the internet can help. Then you only lose the new material since your last backup.

        I run linux (debian) so my particular setup isn’t going to be very useful for most people. But I believe Time Machine (name?) on Macs has options that allow you to do that easily. I’m sure there’s the equivalent for Windows. I’d try searching for “Time Machine for Windows” (or whatever the right name is for the Mac utility).

      • joanelle says:

        Not really, except diligently backup your files. I always backed up my computer but they were lucky and I was not, in as much as they happened to have caught me as I was copying to my external drive; of course there is the ‘cloud.’ I have issues with the cloud because of my former career with the company that started ‘time sharing’ (before that was a vacation reference.) I did have an old hard drive I had saved from a computer I no longer used, which had old files (from six years ago.) we live in scary times!