Monday Reads: A Slow start to a Long WeekPosted: February 25, 2019
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I’m hoping we get good news this week on Mueller Friday. I am certainly wishfully thinking we’ll get more perp walks with all those sealed indictments out there. There’s something making the Twitter Troll in Chief nervous because he’s sure been active today. It takes a lot of asshole to rage at a dying old man just because he says he misses the last republican president. He has said worse before.
Plus, there’s some news about more of Trump sexual assault exploits during his campaign–err Russian based usurpation–during 2016. He’s also called Spike Lee a racist for his Oscar Speech of all things. Doesn’t he have a country to actually run or something? Or a North Korea play date to plan for?
One of the most serious and largely ignored issues so far this century has been the rise of white nationalism and terror. Donald the white nationalist has certainly brought them out from their hidey holes. An FBI report showed that many of the adherents came from military backgrounds. We had a serious issue this month with a Coast Guard member. Will we finally see policy and laws to keep track and route these racists out of the military once and for all? Dan Lamothe reports for WAPO with this hopeful headline: “House Democrats press the U.S. military about how it is screening for white nationalism and other extremism in the ranks”. The last thing we need to do is provide weapons training to potential domestic terrorists.
“Our hope is that these incidents are isolated events and are not indicative of a larger, systemic issue within the United States Armed Services,” the lawmakers wrote. “Beyond the extremes of domestic terrorism, we are additionally concerned with low level racism and other identity-based harassment that disrupts unit cohesion, impacts readiness, and degrades the ability of our servicemembers to protect our nation. Servicemembers who experience or witness racist or hateful behavior must be able to report such behavior without fear of repercussions.”
Hasson, 49, was arrested Feb. 15 in Silver Spring, Md., after an investigation that began last fall when a computer program the Coast Guard uses to search for insider threats identified suspicious behavior allegedly tied to him. He was charged with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of Tramadol, an opioid painkiller.
On Thursday, a judge ordered that he be held for 14 days while federal authorities consider bringing additional charges. Hasson’s attorney, Julie Stelzig, has argued that there was no indication he planned to carry out any violence and that it is not a crime to have negative thoughts.
Hasson had previously served in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard in the late 1980s and 1990s. In a letter to a neo-Nazi quoted in his court filing, authorities said he wrote that he was a “long time White Nationalist” and had “been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military.”
A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, said Monday that Hasson’s secret security clearance was suspended Feb. 19, the day that news of his arrest became public.
“The Coast Guard takes active measures to prevent, detect, respond, and mitigate insider threats,” he said.
In their letter Monday, the lawmakers also noted that service members participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., in which white nationalists, neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other extremists gathered. Several were later identified as U.S. service members. In one case, a Marine — Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis — was court-martialed and separated from the military.
A Crew report details multiple crimes committed by Trump during his campaign and first year in office.
In a new report, A Campaign to Defraud, CREW combs through the facts behind these apparent crimes, based on admissions by two of President Trump’s likely co-conspirators and news reports, detailing how criminal law can already be applied to publicly known facts. Most of President Trump’s potential violations are related to illegal campaign contributions meant to cover up evidence of Trump’s affairs with two women, preventing voters from learning the truth about his behavior ahead of the election, though at least one continued well into his first year in office. The eight criminal offenses, including seven felonies, potentially committed by Trump include:
- Causing American Media Inc. (AMI) to make and/or accepting (or causing his then lawyer Michael Cohen to accept) an unlawful corporate contribution related to Karen McDougal.
- Two instances of causing Cohen to make and/or accepting an unlawful individual contributions related to Stephanie Clifford and February 2015 online polling.
- Two instances of causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC’s failure to report contributions from AMI and Cohen related to McDougal and Clifford.
- Causing Donald J. Trump for President LLC to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
- Making a false statement by failing to disclose liability to Cohen for the Clifford payment on his 2017 public financial disclosure form.
- Conspiracy to defraud the United States by undermining the lawful function of the FEC and/or violating federal campaign finance law related to “hush money” payments, false statements, and cover-ups of reimbursement payments to Cohen made by the Trump Organization.
“There has already been significant attention to the President’s possible exposure for obstruction of justice, but it is deeply troubling to discover that he also may have been personally involved in a whole other set of criminal offenses for causing or accepting illegal campaign contributions and then covering up those payments,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “These potential offenses highlight a concerted effort by the President and those around him to deprive the American people of information relevant to making informed election decisions, severely eroding public trust.”
A lawsuit filed by a former campaign staffer details sexual assault and battery committed by Candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign. His life as a sexual predator undoubtedly continues. This is by Ronan Farrow writing for The New Yorker.
A staff member of Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida on Monday, alleging that she experienced “racial and gender discrimination” while working for the campaign, that she was paid less than male and white colleagues, and that Trump once kissed her partially on the mouth, without her consent. The claim related to the kiss may prove difficult to verify. Four people said that the campaign worker, Alva Johnson, told them about the incident afterward, but two other people, who Johnson said were present at the time of the kiss, told me that they did not see it. In a statement, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied that it had taken place.
The most legally significant aspect of Johnson’s suit may ultimately be something the complaint does not explicitly address: the pervasive use of nondisclosure agreements by Trump during his campaign and in his Administration. Johnson’s suit is at least the sixth legal case in which Trump campaign or Administration employees have defied their nondisclosure agreements. Three of those actions, including Johnson’s, were filed this month. Johnson, who was the campaign’s administrative field-operations director in Florida, signed a nondisclosure agreement that bars her from revealing any information “in any way detrimental to the Company, Mr. Trump, any Family Member, any Trump Company or any Family Member company.” Johnson’s attorney, Hassan Zavareei, said, “We expect that Trump will try to use the unconscionable N.D.A. and forced arbitration agreement to silence Ms. Johnson. We will fight this strong-arm tactic.”
The White House referred questions about the nondisclosure agreements to Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer of Trump’s reëlection campaign. He said in a statement, “The campaign takes our NDA agreements very seriously, and will enforce them aggressively if they are breached.” Johnson said that she considers the issues raised by her suit important enough to merit breaching the contract. “I am suing because my work holds the same value as the work of my white male counterparts,” Johnson said, in an interview. “I am suing because this predatory behavior should not be minimized, especially when committed by the most powerful man in the world.”
The Daily Beast has some interesting scuttlebutt: “Trump Tells His Lawyers: Stay for the Coming Legal Hellscape. The president has made private admissions that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.” News Break ! Serial criminal under multiple investigations suddenly figures out that they have his number!
Donald Trump has signaled to his inner circle that even he knows Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishing his investigation will be a new beginning, not a dramatic end, for Trumpworld’s eclectic legal hellscape.
The president made clear to his outside legal team, which includes Rudy Giulianiand Jay Sekulow, that he didn’t want his lawyers going anywhere—even after the Mueller probe ends. The conversations served as a private admission that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.
The president broached the topic of keeping his team together starting late last year, according to two sources familiar with the exchanges, by discussing other legal woes he might face after the Special Counsel’s Office submits its report to the Department of Justice
Trump’s focus at the time? The Southern District of New York. The jurisdiction, known as SDNY, is currently looking into matters involving the president. Those cases have long been considered by Trump’s close allies as a far graver potential threat than the Mueller investigation.
Details about Trump and his family business could be laid bare for public scrutiny as Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and self-described fixer, heads to the Hill to testify this week. He is set to answer questions regarding Trump’s debts and payments, compliance with federal disclosure requirements, tax laws, campaign finance laws, and potentially fraudulent practices by the Trump foundation.
Meanwhile, Assholes have to be assholes.
Harry Reid gave an interview to CNN and minced no words.
Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has news he is eager to spread: He is feeling “very good.”
The former US Senator from Nevada was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich wrote last month after an interview with Reid that he “does not have long to live.”
But make no mistake: this Harry Reid is still the same former boxer and political street fighter I covered for decades in the US Senate.
A searing critic of President George W. Bush and his administration, Reid now says in the age of Trump, he wishes for Bush again “every day,” saying Bush would be “Babe Ruth” compared to the current president.
In an apparent reaction to the interview Monday morning, Trump returned the spars, tweeting that Reid got “thrown out” (he retired) and was working to “put a good swing on his failed career.”
Since the 2016 presidential election, Reid has been colorful in criticizing Trump. He called the now-President everything from a “con man” to a “human leech” to a “big fat guy.” He is especially proud of using the word “amoral” in his New York Times Magazine interview because he says it resulted in a boost of googling the dictionary definition of the word.
I asked him if he has anything nice to say about the President. He pondered that question hard, took time to look for an answer and after a pregnant pause, finally replied, “I just have trouble accepting him as a person, so frankly I don’t see anything he’s doing right.
Give ’em hell Harry!
So, yeah, he’s headed to Vietnam to embarrass us on the world stage yet again. The BBC seems to show the level of diplomatic thought he displays in this lede: “Trump: North Korea ‘could be great power’ without nuclear weapons”. Um, no, just NO. So are your plans for the week watching Trump be duped there or keeping your eye on the mess that keeps emerging from his criminal acts here? Nixon lite any one?
He reiterated that he was “in no rush” to press for North Korea’s denuclearisation. “I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy,” he said.
The Singapore summit was historic as the first meeting between a sitting US president and a leader of North Korea, but the agreement the two men signed was vague on detail. Little has been done since about their stated goal – finding a way to get nuclear weapons off the Korean peninsula.
The president’s latest remarks come on the eve of his departure for Vietnam, and are being seen as a bid to manage expectations.
So, what exactly is he gambling on? This is from The Atlantic and the keyboard of Uri Friedman.
Trump’s negotiators have thus been left in a bind: The only way to make major progress under such circumstances is to get the U.S. and North Korean leaders in a room, but they can’t get them in a room without taking a high-risk gamble.
That’s what Trump’s meeting with Kim in Vietnam, on February 27–28, amounts to. At best, the two leaders will achieve a breakthrough on peace and denuclearization that has eluded their predecessors for decades. At worst, the United States will reward North Korea without reducing the danger it poses. Somewhere in the middle would be a repeat of the leaders’ first summit in Singapore last June: a spectacle with little of substance to show for it.
“Both leaders are free to put aside their briefing books—assuming they even look at them—and move according to their instincts and sense of the possible. Bureaucracies and advisors working with kings, emperors and presidents have known that for centuries,” wrote Stanford’s Robert Carlin, a North Korea scholar who recently held the most detailed discussion yet with Trump’s special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, on the administration’s vision for diplomacy with Kim.
“Many experts would be more comfortable with the working-level process leading, possibly and eventually, to the summit,” he added. “But we have the reverse, and no one really knows what it will mean to ski downhill from the top of Mt. Everest.”
Well, that’s a metaphor for ya!
So, there’s no panic inducing news today. Not yet any way!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?