Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

William Barr

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently questioning William Barr, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. It’s pretty much guaranteed that Barr’s appointment will be approved, so the main goal for Democrats is to get him to commit publicly to protecting Robert Muller and the Russia investigation.

Diane Feinstein already got Barr to say that he will protect the investigation and he said that he will abide by the rules of the Special Counsel statute. The hearings are expected to take about three days. You can read Barr’s prepared statement at CNN.

Also from CNN: Barr sent or discussed controversial memo with Trump lawyers.

Attorney General nominee William Barr shared a controversial memo last year with nearly all of President Donald Trump’s lawyers concluding that an aspect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s case could be “fatally misconceived,” Barr acknowledged Monday.

Barr’s 19-page memo — which concluded that Trump’s publicly reported interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey could not constitute obstruction of justice — was addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel and released as a part of Barr’s Senate questionnaire last month. But it was previously unclear who else had seen it.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham Monday night, Barr said that he had sent it to White House special counsel Emmet Flood, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, and his former Justice Department colleague Pat Cipollone who is now White House counsel. He also discussed the issues raised in the memo with Trump lawyers Marty and Jane Raskin and Jay Sekulow. In addition he sent a copy, or had a conversation about the contents of the memo with Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Jared Kushner.

In Tuesday’s testimony, Barr will say he distributed the memo “broadly” so that other lawyers “would have the benefit of my views.” He said the memo was narrow in scope and targeted a specific obstruction of justice theory “under a single statute that I thought, based on media reports, the special counsel might be considering.”

“I wrote it myself, on my own initiative, without assistance , and based solely on public information,” Barr will say.
But the revelation comes as Democrats have pledged to make Barr’s criticisms of Mueller’s investigation a centerpiece of the hearings, particularly because Barr would be poised to oversee Mueller’s work if confirmed.

Cindy McCain weighed on Twitter.

Here are three opinion pieces on the Barr nomination to check out:

NBC News: William Barr confirmation hearing: Trump’s attorney general nominee still has a lot to answer for, by Glenn Kirschner.

The Washington Post: I was in Congress during Nixon’s impeachment proceedings. William Barr is wrong, by Elizabeth Holzman. former Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Lawfare: Lessons from Watergate: What the Senate Judiciary Committee Should Ask Bill Barr, by Mikhaila Fogel Quinta Jurecic, and Benjamin Wittes.

In other DOJ news, The Supreme Court has declined to hear a “challenge to Whitaker as acting attorney general.” The Washington Post reports:

The Supreme Court, without comment, turned away a challenge Monday to Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general.

Washington lawyer and Supreme Court practitioner Thomas C. Goldstein has intervened in cases in Nevada and Maryland to say that President Trump did not have the legal authority to appoint Whitaker, who had been chief of staff to Jeff Sessions when Trump forced out his attorney general in November.

The justices denied the Nevada case and its attempt to substitute Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein for Whitaker. The Maryland case is still before a federal judge there.

Goldstein and others say that Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, should have succeeded Sessions and that it is unlawful for Whitaker to be running the department for even a short time.

Read more at the WaPo.

More legal news, just breaking this morning: Wilbur Ross can’t include a question about immigration status in the Census questionnaire. NPR: Judge Orders Trump Administration To Remove 2020 Census Citizenship Question.

A federal judge in New York has ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Wilbur Ross characiture

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question on forms for the upcoming national head count “without curing the legal defects” the judge identified in his opinion released on Tuesday.

Furman’s decision marks a significant milestone in a legal battle that began shortly after the Trump administration announced last year that the 2020 census would include a controversial question about U.S. citizenship status. The added question was: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” All U.S. households have not been asked such a question on the census since 1950.

It’s an important step in the right direction, but the case will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Furman has noted that he does not expect his order to be the final word on the question’s fate. The district court ruling in New York is expected to be appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court.

In addition to the two lead cases before Furman at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the administration is fighting five more lawsuits across the country filed by dozens of states, cities and other groups that want the question removed. A second trial over the question began earlier this month in California, and another is scheduled to begin in Maryland on Jan. 22.

Yesterday The New York Times reported that Trump is dying to make Putin’s dreams come true: Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia.

There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.

Read more at the NYT.

Will Devin Nunes finally get his comeuppance? The Daily Beast reports: Mueller Probes an Event With Nunes, Flynn, and Foreign Officials at Trump’s D.C. Hotel.

The Special Counsel’s Office and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are scrutinizing a meeting involving former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, one-time National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and dozens of foreign officials, according to three sources familiar with the investigations.

The breakfast event, which was first reported by The Daily Sabah, a pro-government Turkish paper, took place at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. at 8.30 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2017—two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration. About 60 people were invited, including diplomats from governments around the world, according to those same sources.

The breakfast has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan as part of their probe into whether the Trump inaugural committee misspent funds and if donors tried to buy influence in the White House. The existence of that probe was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The Special Counsel’s Office is also looking at the breakfast as part of its investigation into whether foreigners contributed money to the Trump inaugural fund and PAC by possibly using American intermediaries, as first reported by The New York Times. Robert Mueller’s team has asked Flynn about the event, according to two sources familiar with the Special Counsel’s Office questioning.

Click on the link to read the rest.

Breaking Russia investigation news from Twitter:

The Women’s March is bleeding support because of concerns that the leadership of the group is anti-Semitic. The latest from Jewish News Syndicate: Democratic National Committee drops partnership with Women’s March.

The Democratic National Committee has dropped its partnership in the Women’s March over anti-Semitism concerns, according to a Democratic source.

This development comes amid accusations of anti-Semitism within the movement’s leadership, causing many organizations to drop their support of the this year’s march, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19. There have been calls for firms to back out.

In recent weeks, a number of progressive groups that have withdrawn their support of the march, which was launched in 2017 in protest of the election of President Donald Trump, including, but are not limited to, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the Human Rights Campaign, Greenpeace, Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance, Coalition Against Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

Moreover, local marches, such as in Chicago and New Orleans, have been cancelled.

And from The Washington Post: What’s in a name? Women’s March groups spar over who owns the name and the movement.

After a year marred by accusations of anti-Semitism, financial opacity and infighting, the national Women’s March organization has sought to refocus the group with a rally and the rollout of a new federal policy platform dubbed the Women’s Agenda.

Meanwhile, local groups across the country — largely unaffiliated with the national organization — have been unable to separate themselves from the fallout. They say it has hurt their ability to organize, to attract participants and to be heard.

Even the name, Women’s March, has become a flash point.

Four organizations have sued the national Women’s March group — led by activists Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour — over efforts to trademark the name, arguing that no entity can own the march or the activism it has inspired. Some groups have sought to rebrand to shed the “Women’s March” name and the tumult that comes with it.

Frankly, I had issues with the women’s march in 2017, because they shut out Hillary and her supporters. The next march is scheduled for Saturday.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread below.

75 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Devin Nunes needs to go to jail for obstruction of justice.

    and this:


    Another GOP lawmaker calls on Steve King to resign over white supremacy comments

  2. OG says:

    I have been looking at our national budget and our national debt for decades and saying we are spending way to much for defense and should bring all our troops home. We cannot afford what we have been doing, abd to me that includes troops in Europe. We are separate countries and continents and and some point we need to remove ourselves from paying for their defense. I think that time should just as well be now.

    • dakinikat says:

      Some one just needs to make them do a study to figure out where they can downsize. I think Obama was working on some of that but the Republicans howl when that happens and the weapons industry is powerful. Trump is doing it willy nilly. The country managed to downsize its bases with a panel of blue star generals. I don’t understand why they can’t do that in partnership with the diplomats and find a way to downsize.

    • NW Luna says:

      It’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with the member countries bordering or close to the North Atlantic Ocean. As the purpose is mutual defensive support, the countries fund this in approximate relation to their resources — so the %s are similar though a larger country will provide more than does a smaller country. The organization seems quite neighborly though on a much larger scale.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Taking a queue to disband our alliance FROM MOSCOW would be a fatal mistake.

      I don’t believe in occupation.

      If Germany or Japan ever said GTFO I’d say let’s go.

      But gaining the trust of old enemies for mutual defense against Russia was and is key to our survival.

      Is anybody falling for Trump/Putin’s con?

      • OG says:

        No, as I said, I have been saying that for decades, long before Trump came onto the scene.

        • RonStill4Hills says:

          Sorry if I sounded hostile. It was unintentional.

          The military downsizing done under Bush 1 (and Dick Cheney) billed as the so-called “peace dividend” turned out to be a smorgasbord for privatization ala Halliburton and Blackwater.

          This has to be done carefully and with the full participation of career military and diplomats. Not ideologues and people with a financial interest.

          Oh yeah, and after Vladimir Putin is dead.

          • OG says:

            The problem with that is the military in conflicts will never agree to any reductions. They always say gives us more troops and more time and we can achieve our objective. This is true in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and in the Middle East today.

            The diplomats are sold on the MIC and neo-con view of the world which is constant war and US military domination and control of the world. I think we should let that view go.

          • quixote says:

            You’re absolutely right, Ron. The problem with Dump’s crazy moves is that they serve Putin’s agenda. And Putin is just about a contrary indicator. If he’s for it, the angels are probably on the other side.

          • NW Luna says:

            OG, I have to disagree. Reduction in military budget has been carried out before some years back, with the advice of military commanders on which areas to reduce. I was just reading an article on this in the last few days. Let me try to find it again. (So much news happening.)

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. quixote says:

    I get the feeling the Women’s March was hijacked. It took off, Sarsour and her ilk quick hustled themselves to the front of the parade, and have been spreading their bafflegab ever since.

    First and foremost red flag was not inviting Hillary. Second was supporting misogynist freaks like Farrakhan. In so-called leaders of a WOMEN’S movement! Third, the anti-semitism.

    The whole thing is so weirdly out of character for any actual women’s movement, I’m wondering if somebody who knows how should be tracking the number of trollbot farms pushing that cabal.

    It would fit the pattern: weaken all the women’s movements. They’re the only large consistent threat to the world’s dicktaters.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Sarsour and her biddies did hijack it. I read a long article about it a couple of months ago, but now I can’t remember where. They were Bernie cultists, I think.

    • NW Luna says:

      It was a hateful act to not invite Hillary. It also made no sense since the women marching supported and voted for her. I also hate the co-opting of Hillary’s “Women’s rights are human rights” without giving her credit. I was proud to carry my sign Thank you Hillary and Women’s rights are human rights — HRC. It’s because of Sarsour and her ilk that I didn’t join the 2018 march and won’t join the 2019 march.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        I knew there were tensions but I must not have been paying attention. I had hoped that the issues with the Women’s March were being exaggerated by the media and and that they were mostly misunderstandings. Sounds like it is more serious.

        Next year why don’t we have a counter March led by HRC? I would March with her anywhere.

      • bostonboomer says:

        They had a list of important activist women and Hillary wasn’t on it.

  5. NW Luna says:

    ‘The essence of involuntary servitude’: Federal unions sue the Trump administration to get paid for shutdown work

    A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday refused to force the government to pay federal employees who have been working without compensation during the partial government shutdown, rejecting arguments from labor unions that unpaid work violates labor laws and the Constitution.

    U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said it would be “profoundly irresponsible to issue an order that would result in thousands of employees staying home from work. At best it would create chaos and confusion,” Leon said. “At worst it could be catastrophic. . . . I’m not going to put people’s lives at risk.”

    What? Paying workers who are actually working “could be catastrophic” and cause them to stay home?

  6. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast: William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General Nominee, Held Immigrants in ‘HIV Prison Camp’

    Decades before President Donald Trump nominated William Barr to retake the reins at the Department of Justice, Barr used the post to indefinitely detain hundreds of HIV-positive asylum-seekers at a Guantanamo Bay detention center, deemed an “HIV prison camp” by a federal judge who ruled the quarantine to be in gross violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    That policy, part of a program that at its peak held more than 12,000 Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, helped lay the legal groundwork for the indefinite incarceration of “enemy combatants” in the War on Terror—and institutionalized the detention system that President Trump has made a cornerstone of his immigration policy. Barr has since defended the detention of hundreds of HIV-positive asylum-seekers, some of them children, even though the government’s own lawyers admitted at the time that detainees had inadequate medical care.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Barr’s “I wrote it myself, on my own initiative, without assistance” memo is hugely alarming. He sounds like just the sycophant Trump likes.

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Trump is ripping the country off under cover of the shutdown.

    • NW Luna says:

      “Selling the country off for parts”

      As far as negative economic impact, Trump’s tariffs and shutting down the government does that.

  10. dakinikat says:

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  17. NW Luna says:

    Rather selective knowledge of the Constitution, eh Mr. Barr?

  18. NW Luna says:

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    • NW Luna says:

      “would hurt the country” is very elastic wording.

      One of the many red flags raised by Barr is that he would not agree to recuse himself if advised to do so by DOJ ethics advisors.

  23. NW Luna says:

    Barr on the emoluments clause of the Constitution: “I couldn’t even tell you what it says.”

    T-Mobile announced a merger needing Trump administration approval. The next day, 9 executives had reservations at Trump’s hotel.Last April, telecom giant T-Mobile announced a megadeal: a $26 billion merger with rival Sprint, which would more than double T-Mobile’s value and give it a huge new chunk of the cellphone market.

    But for T-Mobile, one hurdle remained: Its deal needed approval from the Trump administration.

    The next day, in Washington, staffers at the Trump International Hotel were handed a list of incoming “VIP Arrivals.” That day’s list included nine of T-Mobile’s top executives — including its chief operating officer, chief technology officer, chief strategy officer, chief financial officer and its outspoken celebrity chief executive, John Legere.

    They were scheduled to stay between one and three days. But it was not their last visit. Instead, T-Mobile executives have returned to President Trump’s hotel repeatedly since then, according to eyewitnesses and hotel documents obtained by The Washington Post. By mid-June, seven weeks after the announcement of the merger, hotel records indicated that one T-Mobile executive was making his 10th visit to the hotel. Legere appears to have made at least four visits to the Trump hotel, walking the lobby in his T-Mobile gear.

  24. NW Luna says:

    But “a woman trapped in a man’s body” is different from this how?

    Rep. Ed Case said he’s ‘an Asian trapped in a white body.’ His apology didn’t help.

    “At a reception intended to be a “celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander members of the 116th Congress,” Case reportedly told the crowd that he was “an Asian trapped in a white body,” according to National Journal fellow Nicholas Wu.

    “As a haole who lived in Japan for 7 years and now lives in Hawai’i, I couldn’t imagine saying something like this,” another said, using a Hawaiian term for someone who is a foreigner. “Check your privilege Ed Case.”

  25. NW Luna says: