Tuesday ReadsPosted: October 3, 2017
Can things get any worse? I suppose they always can. But I don’t know how much more horrible news I can handle. I know I’ve said that before, and I just keep plugging along. But It’s not easy. It helps to know that I’m not alone. I know everyone who reads and/or comments on this blog probably feels this way too.
Terrible natural disasters and mass shootings are nothing new. What’s different now is Trump as “president.” That makes every disaster so much worse. Everything he touches turns to shit.
At least when Obama was president, we knew that someone stable, serious, and intelligent was in charge. We knew he would say the right things after a horrible event. We knew that he would be meeting with his cabinet and advisers to find solutions for problems and that he would go to the scenes of tragedies to comfort people who were desperate and grieving. Trump only cares about how events affect him and his fragile ego.
This morning, as Trump walked to his helicopter to leave for Puerto Rico, he again criticized the people there who are struggling to survive and lied about his administration’s failure to help people in desperate need.
As he took off Tuesday for Puerto Rico, President Trump defended the federal response to the hurricane that ravaged the island two weeks ago.
“In Texas and in Florida we get an A-plus,” he said, citing recovery efforts from earlier hurricanes on the U.S. mainland. “And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation.” [….]
On Sunday, Trump described critics of his government’s response to the humanitarian disaster “politically motivated ingrates.” Yet some residents took issue with Trump’s tone. “People need water, gasoline and tarps, without the politics,” resident Liza Minnelli Pacheco told USA TODAY.
Trump continued to attack the mayor of San Juan, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, suggesting that the people of Puerto Rico need to “give us more help,” by “driving trucks.”
Trump made it clear that all he cares about is that officials in Puerto Rico praise him for the government’s response, regardless of how bad has been.
He also addressed the mass shootings in Las Vegas, which resulted in the deaths of 59 people so far and injuries to more than 500 others. He characterized the police response as “a miracle,” and claimed that the shooter was quickly taken out. From Shareblue:
TRUMP: Look, we have a tragedy. What happened in Las Vegas was in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job. And we’ll be talking about gun laws in as time goes by.
According to the timeline from the Las Vegas police department, it took nearly two hours from the time the gunman started killing people from his hotel room for police to enter the room. When they entered, they found the gunman had already killed himself.
While law enforcement on the ground certainly acted heroically, the police were badly outgunned by the sniper who reportedly had more than a dozen high-powered rifles in his room. He also used tripods and scopes for his killing spree.
We’ll see what happens on Trump’s PR visit. My guess is he won’t go to any of the most troubled areas or try to comfort any agonized survivors of Hurricane Maria.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t link The National Review, but I found this article on the Las Vegas shooter interesting: Based on the early reports, the Las Vegas shooting is very, very strange. I’m not going to quote from it, because you need to read the whole thing. You might also want to check out the Twitter timeline of Rukmini Callimachi (recommended in the article), who writes about ISIS for The New York Times.
Another good piece to check out Splinter: Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ to Las Vegas.
In other news, there are some developments in the Russia investigation.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a distinctly modern problem. The president, judging by his tweets, could try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime.
Mueller’s all-star team of prosecutors, with expertise in money laundering and foreign bribery, has an answer to that. He’s Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt.
Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight. That could include anything from strategizing on novel interpretations of criminal law to making sure the recent search warrant on ex-campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s home would stand up to an appeal.
“He’s seen every criminal case of any consequence in the last 20 years,” said Kathryn Ruemmler of Latham & Watkins LLP, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama. “If you wanted to do a no-knock warrant, he’d be a great guy to consult with to determine if you were exposing yourself.”
Click on the link to read more about Dreeben and his expertise on presidential pardons.
White House officials have begun examining emails associated with a third and previously unreported email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s private domain, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Hundreds of emails have been sent since January from White House addresses to accounts on the Kushner family domain, these people said. Many of those emails went not to Kushner’s or Ivanka Trump’s personal addresses but to an account they both had access to and shared with their personal household staff for family scheduling….
The existence of additional accounts on the family domain beyond the two personal accounts used by Kushner and Ivanka Trump and reported earlier raises new questions about the extent of personal email use by the couple during their time as White House aides. Their use of private email accounts for White House business also raises concerns about the security of potentially sensitive government documents, which have been forwarded to private accounts.
Associates of President Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
In one case, Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the correspondence.
In the other case, the same Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a billionaire who once served in the upper house of the Russian parliament, these people said. The previously unreported inquiry marks the second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project that was delivered to the company during the presidential campaign and has since come to light.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Finally, a long read from Julia Ioffe at The Atlantic: Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally?
On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Manafort wrote.
“Absolutely,” Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev. “Every article.”
“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asks. “Has OVD operation seen?”
According to a source close to Manafort, the initials “OVD” refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and one of Russia’s richest men. The source also confirmed that one of the individuals repeatedly mentioned in the email exchange as an intermediary to Deripaska is an aide to the oligarch.
The emails were provided to The Atlantic on condition of anonymity. They are part of a trove of documents turned over by lawyers for Trump’s presidential campaign to investigators looking into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. A source close to Manafort confirmed their authenticity. Excerpts from these emails were firstreported by The Washington Post, but the full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign.
Click on the link to read the rest of this interesting article.
That’s all the news I can stomach writing about today. What stories are you following?