Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
It’s the usual Frantic Friday News Day. A new WAPO/ABC Poll shows exactly how unpopular KKKremlin Caligula has become and shows wide spread support for both the oldest Living Confederate Widow at the DOJ and the Russia Inquiry. I bet the Twitler storm will be epic over the weekend if they don’t keep him on the golf course.
President Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
At the dawn of the fall campaign sprint to the midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retake control of Congress, the poll finds a majority of the public has turned against Trump and is on guard against his efforts to influence the Justice Department and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging probe.
Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Trump being removed from office, while 46 percent say Congress should not
And a narrow majority — 53 percent — say they think Trump has tried to interfere with Mueller’s investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice; 35 percent say they do not think the president has tried to interfere.
Overall, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance, with 36 percent approving, according to the poll. Because of random sampling variation, this represents only a marginal shift from the last Post-ABC survey, in April, which measured Trump’s rating at 56 percent disapproval and 40 percent approval.
Trump has touted the mindless loyalty of his base, and when he marveled that he would not lose any support if he shot somebody on Fifth Avenue, he was not complimenting the discernment of his supporters. He has tried to turn that into a positive — “I love the poorly educated!” — but the association with low socioeconomic strata has grated on him. Trump is the ultimate snob. He has no sense that working-class people may have equal latent talent that they have been denied the chance to develop. He considers wealthy and successful people a genetic aristocracy, frequently attributing his own success to good genes.
Attempting to explain his penchant for appointing plutocrats to his Cabinet, Trump has said, “I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” It makes sense if you assume a person’s wealth perfectly reflects their innate intelligence. Trump has repeatedly boasted about his Ivy League pedigree and that of his relatives, which he believes reflects well on his own genetic stock. He has fixated on the Ivy League pedigree of his Supreme Court appointments, even rejecting the credentials of the lower Ivys as too proletarian.
Trump has built a brand on attracting working-class strivers. But the relationship he cultivates is unidirectional admiration. Trump gives his supporters a lifestyle they can enjoy vicariously. He views them as suckers. The Trump University scam was premised directly on exploiting the misplaced trust of his fan base. The internal guidance for salespeople trying to drain the savings accounts of their targets explained, “Don’t ask people what they think about something you’ve said. Instead, always ask them how they feel about it. People buy emotionally and justify it logically.”
isis is now making a comeback. The frequency of the group’s attacks is up, and so, apparently, are its numbers. It excels, once again, at crafting small explosive devices, and weaponizing drones. And its sophisticated media outreach is recovering, according to a new U.N. report. The elusive isis emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whom Russia claimed to have killed in a May, 2017, air strike, reëmerged this month with an hour-long broadcast, his first in a year. He acknowledged that his followers had been tested with “fear and hunger.”
The United States had boasted of its “so-called victory in expelling the state from the cities and countryside in Iraq and Syria,” Baghdadi, who was held by U.S. forces in Iraq for several months in 2004, said. He urged a different metric. “The land of Allah is wide and the tides of war change,” he said. “For the believer mujahideen, the scale of victory or defeat is not tied to a city or town being stolen or subject to those who have aerial superiority, or intercontinental missiles or smart bombs.” He referred to the revival of an earlier version of isisafter it was decimated by U.S. troops in Iraq during the surge of 2007. At the time, the jihadi group was down to only a thousand fighters. isis subsequently mobilized more than sixty thousand fighters from more than a hundred countries to its cause. Baghdadi vowed that those who “patiently persevere” would again have “glad tidings.”
isis may already have numbers sufficient to rebuild. Two stunning reports this month—by the United Nations and Trump’s own Defense Department—both contradict earlier U.S. claims that most isis fighters had been eliminated. The Sunni jihadi movement still has between twenty thousand and thirty thousand members on the loose in Iraq and Syria, including “thousands of active foreign terrorist fighters,” the U.N. said, despite the fall of its nominal capital, Raqqa, last October. The Pentagon report is more alarming: isis has fourteen thousand fighters—not just members—in Syria, with up to seventeen thousand in Iraq. More important, isis has successfully morphed from a proto-state into a “covert global network, with a weakened yet enduring core” in Iraq and Syria, with regional affiliates in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, the U.N. reports. It can “easily” obtain arms in areas with weak governance; it is now a threat to U.N. member states on five continents.
A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.
The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.
The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.
They add to the public understanding of those pivotal summer months as the FBI and intelligence community scrambled to untangle possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they reflect the concern of Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier, that the Republican presidential candidate was possibly compromised and his urgent efforts to convey that anxiety to contacts at the FBI and Justice Department.
The people who discussed Ohr’s interview were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the closed session and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had said that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting. It was not clear from Ohr’s interview whether Steele had been directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele’s research dossier.
Steele and Ohr, at the time of the election a senior official in the deputy attorney general’s office, had first met a decade earlier and bonded over a shared interest in international organized crime. They met several times during the presidential campaign, a
relationship that exposed both men and federal law enforcement more generally to partisan criticism, including from Trump.
There’s also a new indictment of a Manafort crony with connections to Cambridge Analytica. This is another FARA violation charge. This may be connected to the upcoming DC trial for Manafort.
A former associate of Paul Manafort agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors after pleading guilty to failing to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.
The lobbyist, Sam Patten, is a longtime international political operative who’s partnered with a Russian already indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. He appeared in federal court in Washington Friday.
Mueller’s office referred the case to U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu in the District of Columbia, according William Miller, a spokesman for Liu, who declined to comment further on a pending case.
Patten has worked with Manafort and on Ukrainian campaigns, as well as in countries including Russia, Georgia, Iraq and Kazakhstan. He served in the State Department under George W. Bush, and reportedly worked on microtargeting operations with Cambridge Analytica.
From 2014, Patten provided a “prominent” Ukrainian oligarch who isn’t named in court papers and his Opposition Bloc political party with lobbying and consulting services, according to the criminal information. A company Patten co-owned with a Russian national received more than $1 million for the work, the U.S. said.
As part of his lobbying work, he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not disclosing the work to the U.S., prosecutors said. No date has been set for his sentencing.
He headed the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute in the early 2000s. A Russian IRI employee in those years, Konstantin Kilimnik, went on to work as a fixer for Manafort in Ukraine and is a business partner with Patten. Kilimnik has been indicted in absentia alongside Manafort on obstruction of justice charges the former Trump campaign chairman faces in Washington next month.
Trump continues his war on Canada as the Toronto Star uncovered some Trumpertantrums regarding the so-called NAFTA rework. Trump’s interview with Bloomberg News has turned into a verbal bombing campaign.
High-stakes trade negotiations between Canada and the U.S. were dramatically upended on Friday morning by inflammatory secret remarks from President Donald Trump, after the remarks were obtained by the Toronto Star.
In remarks Trump wanted to be “off the record,” Trump told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday, according to a source, that he is not making any compromises at all in the talks with Canada — but that he cannot say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”
“Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that, and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people,” he said of the Canadian government.
In another remark he did not want published, Trump said, according to the source, that the possible deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs.
“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said, according to the source. The Impala is produced at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario.
Trump made the remarks in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg. He deemed them off the record, and Bloomberg accepted his request not to reveal them.
But the Star is not bound by any promises Bloomberg made to Trump. And the remarks immediately became a factor in the negotiations: Trudeau’s officials, who saw them as evidence for their previous suspicions that Trump’s team had not been bargaining in good faith, raised them at the beginning of a meeting with their U.S. counterparts on Friday morning, a U.S. source confirmed.
The Star was not able to independently confirm the remarks with 100 per cent certainty, but the Canadian government is confident they are accurate. Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, who was one of the journalists in the room, did not dispute their authenticity.
Trump has removed cost of living raises for Federal Employees. What a small minded little manchild.
President Donald Trump told lawmakers on Thursday he wants to scrap a pay raise for civilian federal workers, saying the nation’s budget couldn’t support it.
In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Trump described the pay increase as “inappropriate.”
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the President wrote.
An across-the-board 2.1% pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect in January. In addition, a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where a worker is posted — the “locality pay increase” — was due to take effect.
Trump said both increases should no longer happen.
“I have determined that for 2019, both across the board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero,” he wrote.
Congress has an opportunity to effectively overrule the President’s edict if lawmakers pass a spending bill that includes a federal pay raise. The Senate passed a bill this summer that included a 1.9% raise for federal workers. The House’s version did not address federal pay. Senate and House negotiators will negotiate a final measure in the coming weeks.
Trump’s 2019 budget proposal, released earlier this year, included a pay freeze for civilian federal workers. It’s not clear if Trump would approve a budget that includes the pay increase; the White House has not issued a formal veto threat of the Senate’s bill.
The nation is mourning Aretha Franklin and John McCain today. WAPO wrote an article on McCain’s 106 year old mother who attended the service today. I wanted to share some of it with you.
She was sitting in a wheelchair as they carried her son’s casket into the Capitol Rotunda Friday.
Roberta McCain, 106, held granddaughter Meghan McCain’s hand and lifted a handkerchief to dab her eyes. Wearing lipstick, pink blush and a polka dot white blouse, she sat silently as congressional leaders and Vice President Mike Pence lauded Sen. John McCain, who died last week at age 81.
When the tributes were over, Roberta was the last member of the family to touch his flag-draped casket. She crossed herself afterward.
Many obituaries have been quick to mention the McCain family’s prestigious lineage within the American military. The senator’s father and grandfather — both of whom shared his name — were the first father and son in Navy history to become full admirals.
But often overlooked is the influence McCain’s mother had on his upbringing and political life. Now, Roberta has outlived the child she still calls “Johnny,” whose death she faced once before when he was shot down over Vietnam and presumed lost.
Roberta, who lives in Washington, spent years crisscrossing the globe, often alongside her identical twin sister, Rowena, eager for whatever spontaneous adventure came next. She has ridden through the Jordanian desert in the dark of night, hopped a ferry to Macau and trekked through Europe on less than $5 per day.
Roberta and Rowena were born in 1912 when William Howard Taft was president. They grew up traveling the country with their father, a successful oil wildcatter who retired young to raise his children. The family would travel for weeks, sometimes along the California coast or by the banks of the Great Lakes.
Those trips would later serve as the blueprints for what Sen. McCain described as his mother’s “mobile classroom” — one that could show her children the world’s wonders in ways a four-walled classroom could not.
“My mother grew to be an extroverted and irrepressible woman,” Sen. McCain wrote in his memoir, “Faith of My Fathers.”
I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend. I’ll be dreaming about the days when I use to spend it on a beach.
Something big must be coming from either Mueller’s investigation or the Southern District of New York, because Trump is truly losing it. Hard to believe, but his tweets are getting crazier than ever and serious people are questioning his sanity.
This morning, Trump actually claimed that NBC doctored the video of his Lester Holt interview. Vice News:
Donald Trump is now claiming that his infamous May 2017 TV interview, seen by millions, in which he freely admits to firing former FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia probe is somehow fake.
Among a series of unglued tweets, Trump accused NBC anchor Lester Holt of “fudging” the tape that is reportedly being looked at by special counsel Robert Mueller as evidence of obstruction of justice.
Trump’s bizarre claim 16 months after the fact came amid a rant about fake news in which he again labeled reporters the “enemy of the people.” [….]
This is the first time Trump has questioned the veracity of the recording in the 476 days since the interview was first broadcast.
During the interview Trump said of Comey’s firing: “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”
Trump’s attacks on the press are bearing fruit. CNBC: Man who echoed Trump attacks on the media is charged with threatening to kill Boston Globe employees over pro-press editorial.
A man was charged on Thursday with threatening to kill employees of the Boston Globe following the paper’s decision to coordinate a national response to President Donald Trump‘s attacks on the media, according to a release issued by the Justice Department.
In more than a dozen threatening phone calls to the newspaper, Robert Chain, 68, threatened to kill Globe employees and referred to the publication as “the enemy of the people,” according to the release. The threats started Aug. 10, the day the Globe announced that it would be coordinating editorials from papers around the country to “protect free press from Trump attacks.”
More than 300 publications published editorials on Aug. 16 as part of the project, according to a tally from the Globe. That day, Chain allegedly threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head, “later today, at 4 o’clock.”
Chain, of Encino, Calif., was arrested Thursday and eventually will be transferred to Boston. He is expected to appear in federal court in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon.
Here’s what Trump tweeted to his millions of cult followers this morning.
Earlier Thursday, Trump wrote in a post on Twitter that he could not “state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the Media is.”
He signed off the tweet: “Enemy of the People!”
And Here are Chain’s words:
Last night The Washington Post published this piece about how much trouble Trump could be in and how unready he is to deal with it: ‘Winter is coming’: Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm.
President Trump’s advisers and allies are increasingly worried that he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House, which would empower the opposition party to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges.
Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands, and there has been broad discussion about bringing on new lawyers experienced in white-collar defense and political scandals.
The president and some of his advisers have discussed possibly adding veteran defense attorney Abbe Lowell, who currently represents Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to Trump’s personal legal team if an impeachment battle or other fights with Congress emerge after the midterm elections, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Trump advisers also are discussing recruiting experienced legal firepower to the Office of White House Counsel, which is facing departures and has dwindled in size at a critical juncture. The office has about 25 lawyers now, down from roughly 35 earlier in the presidency, according to a White House official with direct knowledge.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Yesterday Trump fired White House Counsel Don McGahn via Twitter, and this morning he’s tweeting responses to the news coverage.
Sure, dipshit. And now he’s admitting publicly that it was his decision to dump McGahn. Yesterday, he claimed McGahn was leaving voluntarily.
Exact timing aside, McGahn’s exit comes at a critical moment for Trump and the Republican Party. A blue wave could hand Democrats control of the House beginning in 2019, allowing them to initiate congressional investigations, issue subpoenas for information related to the president and his businesses, and begin impeachment proceedings. At the same time, McGahn’s departure is likely to set in motion a series of changes that will fundamentally alter Trump’s relationships with his White House legal team, the special counsel’s office, and his personal attorneys. Last summer, when the president asked McGahn to fire the special counsel, he reportedly threatened to resign. (McGahn’s likely successor, Clinton-impeachment alum Emmet Flood, is expected to be less cooperative with document requests. According to the Times, Flood recently contested a special counsel request to interview Chief of Staff John Kelly, citing the president’s executive privilege.)
The shake-up of the White House general counsel’s office may also precipitate more significant changes to Trump’s relationship with the Justice Department. A key point of tension between Trump and McGahn has been Jeff Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation last year, which McGahn reportedly failed to prevent and which Trump views as the “original sin” that set in motion the series of events leading to Mueller’s appointment. In recent weeks, Trump has revived his public attacks on his long-suffering attorney general, and has spoken with his personal lawyers about firing him, according to The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, what was once a largely unified wall of G.O.P. support for Sessions has begun to crack. While Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other high-ranking lawmakers continue to stand by Sessions, others have seemingly resigned themselves to the inevitability of his firing. “Trump doesn’t like him,” Senator and Trump confidant Lindsey Graham told reporters Tuesday. “This relationship has soured, and I’m not blaming Jeff. It can’t go on like this.” Others have begun signaling that if Trump is to fire Sessions, it should at least wait until after the midterm elections, effectively endorsing an expiration date for the attorney general. “They’d do it before, but they’re worried about the effect it would have on the midterms themselves,” Senator Bob Corker told the Post. “It’s about the investigation, and I think the Mueller investigation ought to go on unimpeded.”
The combination of a new White House counsel and a new attorney general in charge of the Russia probe could pour gasoline on the already-fiery dynamic between president and special counsel. Ousting either man could look like further evidence of corrupt intent on the part of Trump, should Democrats ultimately pursue impeachment. More important, it could presage an aggressive new legal strategy by the president and his lawyers as Mueller’s investigation grinds toward a conclusion. Given that the midterms are just around the corner, avid watchers of the probe expect any new indictments to be issued by September 7—the 60-day mark before the elections—in order to avoid the appearance of partisanship.
That’s next Friday, and remember the Grand Jury on Fridays.
You have to read this piece at CNN by Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner: Mike Pence went to college and found God.
People who met Mike Pence at Hanover College say something happened there to change him. In the fall of 1977, when he arrived, Hanover was the kind of liberal arts school where young minds were gently opened by professors and classmates. Pence moved in the opposite direction there, becoming more rigid and doctrinaire as he studied for a history degree.
Eventually his faith led him to reject some friends and even regard his fiancée, Karen, as a sinner whom he would have to forgive in order to marry. These habits of mind, later revealed in his hostility to equality for gay people and even climate science, were formed when he was barely an adult.
Vespers was organized around songs and testimonies of faith. It offered community to students who were adjusting to the emotional challenge of leaving home. It also gave the guitar-playing Pence the opportunity to preach with the zeal of a new convert to right-wing Christianity. His schoolmate Linda Koon recalls a charismatic fellow who turned cruel when she failed to meet his definition of true faith.
“He was rigid, condescending and exclusionary,” Koon said in an interview. “You had to fit into his little pocket of Christianity, and I didn’t fit.”
Koon’s problem was that she couldn’t recount a dramatic come-to-Jesus tale of Christian conversion. “He acted like he had been struck by lightning,” she said. “I had just grown up in the Lutheran Church and had always been a Christian. That wasn’t good enough. He told me that wasn’t good enough, ‘God doesn’t want your kind.’
Head over to CNN to read the rest.
So . . . what stories have you been following?
What’s new pussy grabber?
Now the cartoons:
When John McCain drew a cartoon for Mike Luckovich:
Uh…but in the same breath, Isakson was against renaming the Senate office building…from the segregationist Georgian Richard Russell to John McCain.
This is an open thread.
I know no one here will find this statement surprising, but Trump has no clue what being “president” is all about. The traditional job of president is not to alienate our country’s closest allies, gin up racism and hatred, inflame partisan divisions, attack freedom of speech and press, and disrespect anyone who refuses to genuflect before him. Presidents are supposed to try to unite the country, heal divisions, and show leadership in difficult times. Not this so-called “president.”
Ashley Parker at The Washington Post: President non grata: Trump often unwelcome and unwilling to perform basic rituals of the office.
Shunned at two funerals and one (royal) wedding so far, President Trump may be well on his way to becoming president non grata.
The latest snub comes in the form of the upcoming funeral for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), which, before his death, the late senator made clear he did not want the sitting president to attend. That the feeling is mutual — Trump nixed issuing a statement that praised McCain as a “hero” — only underscores the myriad ways Trump has rejected the norms of his office and, increasingly, has been rejected in turn.
Less than two years into his first term, Trump has often come to occupy the role of pariah — both unwelcome and unwilling to perform the basic rituals and ceremonies of the presidency, from public displays of mourning to cultural ceremonies.
In addition to being pointedly not invited to McCain’s funeral and memorial service later this week — where former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will both eulogize the Arizona Republican — Trump was quietly asked to stay away from former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral earlier this year. He also opted to skip the annual Kennedy Center Honors last year amid a political backlash from some of the honorees and has faced repeated public rebuffs from athletes invited to the White House after winning championships.
“We’re not talking about a president going and having a rally in a state that voted against him,” said Tim Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University who previously served as the director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. “We’re talking about a president who can’t even go and participate in a ritual where presidents are usually welcomed, and that is one of the consequences of his having defined the presidency in a sectarian way.”
Noah Bierman at The LA Times: Two funerals and a wedding: The shunning of Donald Trump.
Sen. John McCain’s decision to exclude President Trump from his funeral is an extraordinary moment on its own, a posthumous rebuke from an American icon who regarded the presidency as sacred, and believed its current occupant defiles that office.
Yet Trump’s exclusion from such high-profile events of mourning and celebration — where American presidents are typically counted on to stand in for an entire nation — is emerging as a pattern over his 19 months in office.
In April, Trump was asked to stay away from the funeral of Barbara Bush, wife to one president and mother of another, leaving it to former Presidents Clinton and Obama to serve as national consolers to the Bush family. In December, he opted to skip the president’s traditional attendance at the annual Kennedy Center Honors gala after several of the artists being feted threatened a boycott.
The British royal family dispensed with inviting foreign dignitaries to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May partly to avoid having to invite Trump, whom Markle had attacked as “divisive” and “misogynistic.” Trump canceled the usual White House celebration for the NFL’s Super Bowl champions when he learned most of the Philadelphia Eagles players were unwilling to attend. Only months earlier the Golden State Warriors had passed on their own invitation to celebrate their 2017 NBA championship title at the White House.
Bierman notes that Trump rants about his rejections by “elites,” but at the same time he’s wounded by them.
Trump’s pique “is genuine. None of it is a put-on,” said Michael Caputo, a former political advisor. “He has the same deep and abiding disdain for the elites that each and every one of the ‘deplorables’ have today.”
The resentment was a constant throughout his career in business and entertainment, where he was dismissed as more of a boastful, tabloid-seeking showman than the serious mogul he believed himself to be.
“I am sure that he is aggravated that the political establishment still will not accept him,” said one longtime friend who asked not to be identified given the sensitivity of the subject. “What he really doesn’t understand is that their objection is cultural as well as political and that they will never accept him.”
But critics say Trump created the isolation by his occasionally outrageous behavior, by reveling in a politics that feeds conspiracy theories, humiliates rivals and disdains basic notions of civility.
“He lacks any kind of humility. He kind of takes pride in kicking people around. So when people then strike back, he shouldn’t be disappointed, because in many ways he’s asked for it,” said Leon E. Panetta, who served in Congress and in the Clinton and Obama cabinets.
Just look at his childish reaction to the death of John McCain.
President Trump reversed course and ordered that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff for the rest of the week to mark the death of John McCain, after drawing fire from lawmakers and veterans groups who said the Republican senator hadn’t been appropriately honored….
The White House initially lowered its flag to half-staff on Saturday but returned it to full-staff by Monday morning. It was lowered to half-staff again Monday afternoon, shortly before Mr. Trump released his statement. The president’s proclamation covers the White House as well as all federal buildings, military bases and embassies.
White House officials said they prodded Mr. Trump for two days to put out a kind word about Mr. McCain. Mr. Trump resisted, and viewed the news coverage of the former senator’s death as over-the-top and more befitting a president, according to people familiar with the situation. They said cable networks’ focus on the flag controversy came at the expense of more coverage of Mr. Trump’s trade deal with Mexico.
Trump is wrong, of course. The flag has been kept at half-staff until the interment of other prominent Americans, most recently for Senator Ted Kennedy and former First Lady Barbara Bush.
One of the reasons Trump despised John McCain was because of his vote against repealing the ACA, but why is he given all the credit for the bill’s defeat? If it hadn’t been for two Republican women, Susan Collins and Lisa Merkowski, McCain’s no vote would have been meaningless. That’s one of the simple truths about the lionizing of McCain that Holly Baxter points out at The Independent: Why can’t anyone be honest about John McCain’s legacy?
It is difficult to encapsulate a political legacy without sliding into enraged hyperbole or saccharine fawning. With John McCain, it is even harder.
That’s because we’re not in Kansas anymore, politically speaking: in the surreal presidential landscape we’ve found ourselves in, it seems almost quaint to refer to McCain as a dinosaur or a right-wing reactionary, or to say that his cruel streak could sometimes be shocking. After all, he called his wife a “c***” on the campaign trail only once (reportedly reacting to being gently teased about his thinning hair); he only joked about the teenage Chelsea Clinton being the “ugly” love child of Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno. It’s not like he said he could grab any woman “by the pussy” because he was famous; it’s not like he dismissed Mexicans as “rapists”. So what’s the problem?
The very fact that a sitting US president made such shocking remarks, however, shouldn’t blind us to the fact that McCain had some very serious flaws. His Chelsea/Hillary Clinton barb continues a long tradition of dismissing women in politics because of their perceived bad looks. (Remember the “plain facts and plain faces” propaganda against women’s votes during the Suffragette movement, and the depictions of them as ugly harridans who wanted to participate in democracy because they couldn’t get husbands?) Needless to say, the memory of McCain’s mean jibe very probably underpins the reason Chelsea Clinton recently defended Barron Trump against media nastiness, tweeting pointedly that he should be “allowed to have the private childhood he deserves”.
Words are just words, but McCain’s voting record where women’s rights are concerned speaks for itself. He voted to restrict abortion and, in 2015, to defund Planned Parenthood if it carried on providing abortions to women with unwanted pregnancies. We know that votes like these can lead to serious consequences: deaths from backstreet abortions, increased levels of poverty, the perpetuation of cycles of social and economic inequality. McCain also voted against the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act in 2014: the bill was an effort to ensure women could access contraception and gynaecological services without being denied healthcare benefits by their providers because of those providers’ “beliefs”. Nor was he prejudiced against women only when it concerned contraception or abortion: he also voted against a bill that would have made it illegal to discriminate against female employees with the same experience being paid less their male counterparts doing exactly the same job.
Read the rest at The Independent.
More articles to check out, links only:
Literary Hub: Rebecca Solnit: Why the President Must Be Impeached.
Natasha Bertrand at The Atlantic: Devin Nunes’s Curious Trip to London.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I’m having difficulty centering my mind today. We’ve had another senseless shoot up at a shopping mall by an angry young white guy that couldn’t handle losing a dumb video game. We have a petty, mean, small minded crime boss in the Oval Office who can’t even put himself to the side for one day to thank a veteran and public servant for all those years of service and sacrifice. The headlines are an endless parade of how bad climate change is escalating hunger. People in Wichita, Kansas have basically been poisoned by the water for decades and the state knew and didn’t bother to do anything or even tell them. We still have two US territories that we haven’t fully rescued from the ravages of hurricanes. Oh, and we know have a policy that’s left a legacy of orphans. We’re no longer any part of any solution. We’re just a morass of problem creators.
SUNDAY MARKED one month since the passage of a deadline, set by a federal judge, for the reunification of migrant children forcibly torn from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s policy. Even as the date came and went, hundreds of those families remained sundered, in many cases with no immediate prospect of being rejoined, the children rendered effectively as orphans and wards of the U.S. government.
Recent court filings are replete with statistics on the categories of children — toddlers, tweens and teens — who remain separated from their parents; those numbers hardly convey the trauma visited upon them by the administration’s zero-compassion policies. By now it is well known, but still difficult to absorb, that the U.S. government broke apart families without the slightest notion or plan for how they would be reunited. This was bureaucratic barbarism on an epic scale. And in its aftermath, there is no accountability, and scarcely a glimmer of regret, for the suffering it inflicted on human beings.
The systematic “zero-tolerance” policy of removing children from their parents, as a means of deterring future migrant arrivals, was in effect for just six weeks. During that time, more than 2,600 minors were confiscated from their mothers and fathers and sent to government-run facilities. The most recent data, current as of Aug. 20, show that 528 of them — about a fifth — remain separated from their parents, most under the auspices of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Today’s photos are images of children because I’d really like to ask what the hell we’re doing to them and their future? Not that it’s always been great for children. Take all the Pedophile priests or this horrifying story about nuns and an orphanage. Places of safety and refuge are rarely that for vulnerable children.
It was a late summer afternoon, Sally Dale recalled, when the boy was thrown through the fourth-floor window.
“He kind of hit, and— ” she placed both hands palm-down before her. Her right hand slapped down on the left, rebounded up a little, then landed again.
For just a moment, the room was still. “Bounced?” one of the many lawyers present asked. “Well, I guess you’d call it — it was a bounce,” she replied. “And then he laid still.”
Sally, who was speaking under oath, tried to explain it. She started again. “The first thing I saw was looking up, hearing the crash of the window, and then him going down, but my eyes were still glued—.” She pointed up at where the broken window would have been and then she pointed at her own face and drew circles around it. “That habit thing, whatever it is, that they wear, stuck out like a sore thumb.”
A nun was standing at the window, Sally said. She straightened her arms out in front of her. “But her hands were like that.”
There were only two people in the yard, she said: Sally herself and a nun who was escorting her. In a tone that was still completely bewildered, she recalled asking, Sister?
Sister took hold of Sally’s ear, turned her around, and walked her back to the other side of the yard. The nun told her she had a vivid imagination. We are going to have to do something about you, child.
At some point, this country has to quit pretending it does anything other than encourage exploitation of its people. It’s obvious these days in the vast number of ways we transfer incomes and resources upward. Take the resignation of the top Student Loan official today. We can’t even offer upward mobility without allowing extraordinary payments to what essentially pass as legal loan sharks.
The government’s top official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market resigned in protest on Monday, citing what he says is the White House’s open hostility toward protecting the nation’s millions of student loan borrowers.
Seth Frotman will be stepping down from his position as student loan ombudsman at the end of the week, according to his resignation letter which was obtained by The Associated Press. He held that position since 2016.
Frotman is the latest high-level departure from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget director who has been also acting director of the bureau, took over in late November. But Frotman’s departure is specifically notable, since his office is one of the few parts of the U.S. government that specifically was tasked with handling student loan issues.
“You have used the bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America,” Frotman wrote, addressing his letter directly to Mulvaney.
Congress specifically created the student loan ombudsman office when it created the CFPB, citing a need for there to be a specific go-to person to handle student loan complaints nationwide. One previous occupant of that position is Rohit Chopra, who is now a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission.
The position is quite powerful, able to work with the bureau’s enforcement staff to specifically target bad behavior in the student loan market as well as act as a voice inside the government on behalf of student loan borrowers. The office has returned $750 million to harmed borrowers since its creation.
This is what you get when you put grifting trust fund babies in charge of real lives. It’s getting to look like the same results we get from tiny, third world nation Myanmar whose Generals are basically committing genocide on the Rohingya population.
An independent United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has called for the country’s military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The damning report contains allegations of murder, imprisonment and sexual violence against the Rohingyas, carried out by the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, under the guise of a crackdown on terrorists, and against a backdrop of impunity that effectively placed military leaders above the law.
“Military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages. The Tatmadaw’s tactics are consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats, especially in Rakhine State, but also in northern Myanmar,” the report said.
The report recommends the case be referred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, or for an ad hoc tribunal to be created to investigate the actions of the alleged perpetrators. Six military leaders are named in the report, including Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Referring to the unusual step of naming the alleged perpetrators in the report, mission member Radhika Coomaraswamy told the media in Geneva on Monday morning that they had found “such overwhelming evidence” of wrongdoing and that the command had “such effective control from what we could gather that we could name … who was responsible.”
But, we’re the United States. We shouldn’t be like this. But we are. There’s a state dinner planned for the worst among us tonight. We’re going to pay for this in many ways than I feel like outlining today but will defer because so much overwhelming things are inundating our lives right now.
Trump Will Host a Huge White House Event Honoring Evangelical Christians @alternet” data-description=”The White House has not released a list of invited guests. Monday evening President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump,and Vice President Mike Pence will host a huge event honoring the contributions made by Evangelical Christians. One reporter from a far right wing Christian news organization is comparing it to a state dinner. It is being billed as a dinner “
About 100 Evangelical Christians are expected to attend. Among them, a large number of Cabinet members, and other top Trump administration officials. The White House has not released a list of invited guests, nor any agenda.
“Looking forward to celebrating with President Trump and the First Lady his unprecedented accomplishments in less than two years,” Fox News pundit and right wing pastor Robert Jeffress tells David Brody at Pat Robertson’s CBN News.
If there ever was a worse set of human beings on the planet, they’d be hanging with Robert Jeffress and KKKremlin Caligula. You remember “Jews are going to hell” Jeffress of Fox News fame? The one Trump sent to Jeruselum to transfer the US embassy there?
Long before Jeffress began defending Trump on cable news, he made headlines for attacking other Americans whose faith is different from his own — something former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney noted Sunday on Twitter.
“Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem,” tweeted Romney, a candidate for the Senate in Utah and a Mormon.
Yup, only let those white christian little children near Jeffress. Oh, and not even Catholic ones.
If you want to counterfeit a dollar bill, you don’t do it with purple paper and red ink, you’re not going to fool anybody with that. But if you want to counterfeit money, what you do is make it look closely related to the real thing as possible.
And that’s what Satan does with counterfeit religion. He uses, he steals, he appropriates all of the symbols of true biblical Christianity, and he changes it just enough in order to cause people to miss eternal life.
Your tax dollars at work folks! Feed the greedy! Not the hungry children!
Marcy with a better question:
So, yes, the upcoming elections are important and returns from primaries in Arizona and Florida on Tuesday could signal the national mood. They’ll be worth a watch.
Arizona primariesSenate: The Senate race is open. (Senator Jeff Flake is not seeking re-election.)
House: 1 out of 9 races is competitive in the general election.
The Republicans vying to fill Mr. Flake’s pivotal seat include Representative Martha McSally as well as candidates with strong ties to Mr. Trump: Kelli Ward, a former state senator, and Joe Arpaio, a polarizing former sheriff.
Florida primariesSenate: Bill Nelson is up for re-election.
House: 5 out of 27 races are competitive in the general election.
In a state with potentially fiery races for senator and governor, a few contests stand out. The Democratic primary in the 27th District could be one of the costliest in the country. The competitive 26th District will test whether a moderate Republican in the Trump era can hold on to a largely Hispanic area.
The Arizona Republican Party that nurtured McCain and his retiring Senate colleague Jeff Flake, whose seat those candidates are seeking, has been overrun by the party of Donald Trump. For Republican candidates now, the imperative is to embrace the president lest they lose his voters — and many of those voters share Trump’s antipathy to McCain.
In 2018, the Republican candidates have chosen to try to maximize the vote of the party’s invigorated populist base — and hope that the burgeoning numbers of Latino and suburban voters in Arizona are not energized against them.
Ward built her national profile by attacking McCain — and not just for his relatively moderate immigration policies and vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Before McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer, Ward called him an “an 80-year-old man” near “the end of life.” When he was diagnosed last summer, she urged him to “step away as quickly as possible,” and continued to criticize him for missing Senate votes during hospital stays.
Privately, a number of Democratic senators have offered their unsolicited view that Nelson is in for a reckoning on Election Day, which would cost Democrats any hope of winning back the Senate. Nelson is a classic old-school senator who keeps his head down and does his work, which is effective in the Capitol but less so in a Trump-era campaign in the most expensive battleground state. He’s being vastly outspent, and there’s concern in Florida the national party might cut him loose if a loss looks certain in the expensive Sunshine State.
And Florida Democrats fret that the low-key third-term senator has not been visible enough while Scott is seemingly everywhere.
“We have no contact with the U.S. senator until it’s an election year and that’s a problem,” said Tangela Sears, a Miami anti-violence activist and campaign surrogate for the Democratic Party’s only African-American candidate for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. “I don’t need your attention when you need my vote. I need your attention to put a plan together to move my community forward.”
It’s been a month since Nelson led a public poll. Private polling, even surveys conducted by Democrats, also show Nelson behind Scott.
Still, Washington Democrats say they are winning. And party leaders are voicing confidence in Nelson and the favorable political climate for Democrats as well as what they see as Scott’s baggage.
“Despite Rick Scott’s enormous wealth, we have never doubted that Sen. Nelson would win. Even after Scott has spent tens of millions on false attack ads, Nelson is still in a very strong position,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
But Republicans are defining the 75-year-old Nelson as anything but strong. They’re mocking him as past his prime, an attack Nelson’s campaign calls as ageist as it is inaccurate. And Republicans have relentlessly criticized Nelson for asserting some Florida counties’ voter registration systems have been “penetrated” by Russia — a claim he hasn’t backed up. Scott’s campaign released a Web ad last week mocking Nelson as “confused.”
I’m worried about the election results because I’m really worried about what we’re leaving our kids
Which is why we need to think about this: “It Would Take Only a Single Senator” James Fallows–writing for The Atlantic–reminds us that “With Republicans clinging to a precarious 50–49 majority, every individual GOP senator can serve as a check on Trump’s excesses whenever they choose to act.”
A few days ago I wrote a long item about changing assessments of Donald Trump: which first impressions had held up, and which had called for second thoughts over time.
The last part of the post concerned the main, and depressing, area where second thoughts were necessary. That was the complete failure of the congressional governing party—Paul Ryan and his large Republican majority in the House, Mitch McConnell and his razor-thin Republican majority in the Senate—to stand up either for its institutional prerogatives, as a separate branch of government, or for normal principles of accountability and the rule of law.
In keeping with the concept that if something is worth saying once, it’s worth saying again—and more concisely—here is the ending part of that previous post once more. It’s also been updated to reflect a sad change in the math of the Senate. When I wrote it, John McCain was ailing and absent from the Senate. Now, of course, he has died, and (as I write, when no replacement has yet been named) the Senate has for the moment only 99 members.
You would think Flake could do it after seeing how his colleague’s death is being disrespected by this administration or Susan Collins because she’s a woman or any number of them.
Just think about the children.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
That there…I mean what a fucking bully…what an asshole!
(See, I say that with expression…like it deserves an exclamation point.)
Uh….let me show you what I mean:
Now, see that exclamation point? “Our hearts and prayers are with you!” That is pure tRump….
Even though prior to the death of John McCain, WaPo came out with this article:
So let’s take a look at some reactions to the death of John McCain:
And don’t forget, McCain did not want tRump at his funeral… Obama, Bush to give eulogies at McCain’s eventual funeral: report | TheHill
Meanwhile, the same old shit continues to carry on:
How Christlike, this candidate is…truly she is imbued with the power of Geezus.
tRump doesn’t know what the US flag looks like either.
Let’s go back to that first image above…perhaps the little girl was questioning tRump’s loyalty and smarts…because at the time he was coloring an American Flag…Russian:
Or is that Finland?
On the latest tRump bastard news:
Just a few more observations:
If only…that would mean Pence is gone too.
I hate this fucking state.
A couple of tweets about women’s issues:
Well, that one above has racist connotations if you ask me! <—— Yes, that is an exclamation point.
Ending with some beauty:
Have a good Sunday, this is an open thread.
This has been a disastrous week for Trump. The Guardian summarizes: Trump’s terrible week: stunning news and whispers of impeachment.
…even by the standards of the Trump universe, this week has been a blur. And at its heart was a single, devastating hour on Tuesday 21 August that effectively turned the president of the United States into an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal crime….
…first, there was Rudy Giuliani. Trump’s lawyer, the former New York mayor, set the tone last Sunday with an Orwellian comment on the NBC network’s Meet the Press. Asked whether the president would give his version of events in testimony to Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Giuliani warned of a perjury trap and said: “Truth isn’t truth.”
Monday passed with just an embarrassing White House event to celebrate ICE during which Trump
…said that a border patrol agent, who is Latino, “speaks perfect English” as he beckoned him to the stage. He also misstated the acronym for US Customs and Border Protection at least eight times, referring to it as “CBC”, as in Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
On Tuesday, the shit really hit the fan.
But then came, to use primary election parlance, Super Tuesday. At around 4.30pm, in courtrooms 200 miles apart, a pair of Trump associates delivered a one-two punch that stunned the White House and revived whispers of impeachment.
In New York, Trump’s longtime lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen implicated the president in a crime to influence the 2016 presidential election. Pleading guilty to dodging taxes and campaign finance violations, he alleged that Trump directed him to pay hush money to prevent two women – a Playboy model and pornographic actor – speaking out about extramarital affairs.
In Alexandria, Virginia, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was found guilty of eight tax and bank fraud charges and could now spend the rest of his life behind bars – unless Trump chooses to pardon him.
On Wednesday morning, Fox aired Trump’s interview in which he claimed that the campaign finance violations Cohen had pleaded guilty to were not crimes and that it should be illegal for people accused of crimes to turn states evidence in order to reduce their sentences. Then on Wednesday night he watched Tucker Carlson’s show.
There he saw a spurious Tucker Carlson report pushing a white nationalist conspiracy theory that white farmers in South Africa are being persecuted and murdered in Zimbabwe-style land grabs. Trump tweeted his outrage and promised to consult the state department, whose own human rights report on South Africa had made no mention of the issue.
It was one more white grievance dog whistle to add to all the rest. The South African government issued a swift rebuke and summoned US officials. Patrick Gaspard, the former US ambassador to South Africa, described the intervention as “astounding and deeply disturbing”. He said: “I can draw a line from the irresponsible statements he made in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville and him lifting up tropes from white nationalists in South Africa.”
It emerged that David Pecker, chairman of American Media Inc, which owns the pro-Trump National Enquirer, had been granted immunity to provide information about Cohen and Trump’s involvement with payments to the two women who allege sexual affairs. The Associated Press added fuel to the fire by reporting thatthe Enquirer kept such secrets locked in a safe, lending it extraordinary power.
That night, the New York Times reported that the Manhattan district attorney’s office was considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials in connection with one of the hush money payments.
The coup de grâce came with the news that Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization had been given immunity to testify against Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
Clearly the news about Weisselberg is the most damaging to Trump, but it’s not clear exactly kind of immunity the long-time “financial gatekeeper” has. According the The New York Times, it’s limited to the case against Cohen .
The person briefed on the deal said that it was narrow in scope, protecting Mr. Weisselberg from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to tax and campaign finance charges. The latter charges stemmed from payments during the campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. It was not, the person said, a blanket immunity extending beyond the information he shared, and Mr. Weisselberg remains in his job at the Trump Organization.
Mr. Weisselberg figured into the charges filed against Mr. Cohen this week, having facilitated the processing of what prosecutors described as “sham invoices” at the Trump Organization, through which Mr. Cohen was reimbursed for the money he had paid to quiet one of the women alleging an affair with Mr. Trump, the pornographic film actress Stephanie Clifford.
It sounds like it’s use immunity, which protects Weisselberg from being prosecuted based on the specific information he provided about the hush money deals. It’s likely that Weisselberg indicated he would take the fifth and prosecutors used immunity to force him to talk. Weisselberg could still be charged with a crime if investigators find independent evidence that he was involved in criminal activities. If he’s eventually charged with a crime, Weisselberg might agree to cooperate fully with prosecutors, but so far that doesn’t seem to be happening.
Nevertheless, the fact that prosecutors have gotten testimony from the man who supposedly “knows where the bodies are buried” in the Trump Organization is huge. And some knowledgeable writers are claiming Weisselberg has agreed to cooperate fully and are speculating about what he could reveal about Trump.
On Twitter, Renato Mariotti says he would be surprised if Weisselberg only got use immunity.
Obviously he knows a hell of a lot more than I do.
Luppe B. Luppen (AKA @NYCsouthpaw) and Hunter Walker at Yahoo News: For Trump, Allen Weisselberg may be the man who knew too much.
Prosecutors investigating Trump’s inner circle reportedly now reportedly have a limited deal with Weisselberg, who has provided testimony against former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. If his cooperation expanded, it could play a crucial role in multiple ongoing investigations.
According to the Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors granted immunity to Weisselberg in exchange for information about payments to Cohen, which were made to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign in order to suppress their stories of alleged affairs with Trump….
The Associated Press subsequently reported that the immunity deal was “restricted to Weisselberg’s grand jury testimony last month in the Cohen case.”
What could Weisselberg reveal if he were forced to cooperate fully?
If Weisselberg decided to fully open his kimono and reveal all he knows, the federal investigation in the Southern District of New York would be the most obvious potential beneficiary. However, in some ways, the nature of that office’s interest in Trump is the most mysterious. As of Friday afternoon, it is not known what other subjects that federal investigation is pursuing. If Trump Organization executives, or even the president, are in its cross hairs, then Weisselberg could offer key insights.
Special counsel Mueller’s investigation, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is another potential beneficiary. For Mueller’s investigators, Weisselberg could detail the nature and extent of the financing the Trump Organization has received from sources connected to Russia. He could also offer them insight into any investments or potential investments Trump has made either in Russia or with Russian partners. A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment for this story.
Weisselberg could also potentially be a valuable material witness in the New York attorney general’s state-level investigation into President Trump’s charitable foundation. In June, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation alleging a “pattern of illegal conduct,” including “willful self-dealing.” Weisselberg has long been the treasurer of the Trump Foundation. In preparation for its lawsuit, the attorney general’s office conducted a lengthy interview with Weisselberg and obtained his emails. The investigators allege that Weisselberg collaborated with Trump and campaign officials in advance of the 2016 Iowa primary to use the charity’s funds to benefit the campaign.
At The New Yorker, the very knowledgeable Adam Davidson has more:
As the C.F.O., Weisselberg tracked the money that came into the Trump Organization and the money that went out of it, former employees told me. I often found myself wondering what the Weisselberg part of the operation looked like. (I called and e-mailed him a few times, but, not surprisingly, never heard back.) Some told me he had a couple of bookkeepers, but that he personally handled most of the paperwork. Weisselberg knew who was paying or lending money to Trump, and he knew to whom Trump was giving money. When Trump became President, he placed his business interests in a revocable trust overseen by his son Donald Trump, Jr., and Weisselberg….
This summer…Weisselberg’s role in the organization came into sharper focus. In a recording that Michael Cohen made of a conversation he had with Donald Trump about a payment to keep secret an affair, Cohen described setting up a shell company to pay hush money during the 2016 campaign to Karen McDougal, a woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump. This week, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign-finance laws, in part by setting up this secretive payment. He said that he knew at the time that it was illegal to secretly make a payment for campaign-related activity, but he did so anyway at Trump’s direction. Strikingly, Cohen makes it clear on the tape that Weisselberg also knew about the shell company and payment. “I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” Cohen explains to Trump.
It is difficult to hear the tape and not wonder how Weisselberg developed this particular expertise and whether he had deployed it before.
Here’s what Davidson has to say about Weisselberg’s immunity deal:
The Journal story and other news coverage suggest that Weisselberg has narrow immunity, related, solely, to the payments that Michael Cohen made to silence two women with whom Trump had affairs. With evidence of that crime in hand, prosecutors can subpoena other records from the company. If they have a reasonable basis to believe another crime has been committed, they can ask Weisselberg about it. Weisselberg, fearing jail time himself, could broaden his coöperation. The fact that Weisselberg has “flipped”— and may flip further—could shift the calculus of other figures in the Trump orbit as well. Weisselberg is a big fish—perhaps the biggest fish of all. Fearing that Weisselberg might implicate them in a crime, any cronies, dealmakers, attorneys, and others who might want to exchange information for leniency from prosecutors, will now do so.
If you’re interested in what kinds of crimes Weisselberg might know about, I’d suggest reading the entire article as well as Davidson’s other New Yorker pieces about Trump’s business dealings.
What else is happening? What stories have you been following?